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the gift of 

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Alter et Idem. 






The Folk-Lore Society. 



A. Try 30o 




LL.D., F.R.S., E.S.A. 
Lt.-Gen. PITT-RIVERS, D.C.L., E.R.S., F.S.A. 

















W. F. KIRBY, F.L.S. , F.E.S. 





M.A., F.S.A 

Son. {Treasurer. 
E. W. BRABROOK, F.S.A., 178, Bedford Hill, Balham, S.W. 

Son. auditors. 

F. A. MILNE, M.A., 11, Old Square, Lincoln's Inn, London, W.C. 

VuMications Committee. 

E. S. HARTLAND (Chairman); G. L. GOMME (Vice-Chairman): J.JAGQBS- 

UiMiogiMyln' Committer. 
G. L. GOMME (Chairman) ; L. L. DUNCAN ; J. JACOBS ; W. F. KIRBY • 

fWuseum Committer. 
G. F. BLACK; A. It. WRIGHT. warvax^x , 

jFinanrc aim fficneral $ur»osrs Committrr. 
E. W. BRABROOK (Chairman); G. L. GOMME; REV. DR. GASTER • 
T. W. E. H1GGKN8; A. NUTT; T. F. OUDISH; F. G. GREK\' 

The President and Treasurer are <:v-ofn-\o members of nil Committees. 


The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 


A Collection of Folklore by Michael Aislabie Denltam, 












The issue of this volume has been delayed owing to the illness 
of Dr. Hardy when it was only half through the press. I took 
it up at this stage, and have thus completed the task of getting 
together these collections of folk-lore which were made before 
folk-lore was anything more than a pastime for the curious, or 
at most an antiquarian pursuit with no definite object in view, 
and only a probability of any results of value being derived 
from its preservation and study. I confess my sympathy goes 
out to these old antiquaries who were content year after year 
to record small things for the sake of recording. Of course 
their method of record was not perfect, was not even good ; 
but then it was a record, and without their work the- 
modern student would be badly off'. The world is too 
much in a hurry now to produce any more of this class of 
antiquaries. The dividing line between the collector and 
the student who seeks to use collections for scientific pur- 
poses is not always preserved, and in consequence works are 
produced which cannot always be commended. The functions 
of these two classes of folk-lorists are quite distinct and should 
bu kept distinct. A plain unadulterated collection of material, 
the result of personal testimony and research, is a thing to pray 
for. A work which handles a collection such as this in a 
scientific spirit, such, for instance, as Mr. Frazer's Golden 
Bough or Mr. Hartland's Perseus, is a thing to discuss and 
enjoy and improve upon as our knowledge increases. But the 


two cannot be welded. When it is attempted we get wrong 
classification to begin with, and hence wrong conclusions. 
Superstitions and beliefs are made to qualify the facts of 
modern life instead of being studied each item by itself to see 
what is the substantive of human life and history with which it 
is in true agreement. 

The truth is that a superstition now attached to birth, 
marriage, or death, to the domestic actions of the modern 
family, to the outdoor actions of the modern agriculturist, or 
to any other side of modern life, has become so attached by cir- 
cumstances which have affected its later observance, not its 
original form. And hence when persons unqualified by any 
anthropological scholarship attempt to deal with some of the 
items of folk-lore for a literary purpose they fall into errors which 
have caused enormous difficulties in the way of true research. 

Mr. Denham was not guilty of anything like this. His 
collection is haphazard to a degree. He simply jotted down 
what he heard as he heard it, and he did not seek to classify it. 
This, to my mind, is a distinct gain. This book represents what 
folk-lore was when it first began to be collected, and it may be 
profitably compared with many later collections which from 
some fancied literary necessity are burdened with a classifica- 
tion which begins with the routine of modern life and generally 
winds up with " miscellaneous " beliefs. 

Mr. Denham's work is like Aubrey's, and Aubrey's is the 
foundation of English folk lore. It is a reflex of what folk-lore 
actually is, the detritus of a once more or less extensive and more 
or less systematized belief and ritual, found in patches here and 
there, perfect in perhaps no one place and not often identical in 
different places, existing as superstitious belief with some 
people, practised as a custom or a child's game with others, 
remembered as a saying or a proverb with others. There is no 
general law for the preservation of folk-lore; it may have 


become attached to a place, an object, a season, a class of 
persons, a rule of life, and have been preserved by means of 
this attachment ; but because every item of folk-lore is not 
attached to the same agent, wherever that particular item has 
been preserved, it is so important not to stereotype an accidental 
association into a permanent one. I am anxious that Mr. 
Denham's work should be known as the best evidence on this 
important point. If it had been written at the present day, 
even if it had been edited under other auspices than that of the 
Folk-lore Society, it is not too much to say that it would have 
assumed a different character to that in which it now appears 
To take an instance, it would no doubt have been deemed 
necessary to have classified the " left leg stocking " divination 
(p. 281) amongst superstitions relating to dress, whereas the 
true determinant of this practice is the "left" (as opposed to 
the " right ") which belongs to an important class of ancient 
beliefs which have been discussed by Grimm and other 
authorities in their bearings upon Indo-European history. It is 
curious that the Romans believed in the luck of the left, thus 
standing in opposition to the more general belief in the luck of 
the right, and the luck of the left belongs to the Roman wall 
district of northern Britain, whereas the luck of the right and 
the unluck of the left is found further south, and in the 
distinctly Teutonic parts of Britain. 

If, then, I claim that the want of order and classification in 
this book constitutes one of its chief elements of scientific value, 
it is apparent that the only way to study folk-lore is to 
treat of each recorded item separately. For this purpose 
there will be found very interesting features here which 
are not to be found elsewhere. The names for the different 
classes of spirits (on pp. 77-78) is very full, and needs 
some investigation philologically and mythologically, because, 
although there are names derived from obvious misconcep- 


tions of the popular mind, there are others which seem 
to me to contain important indications of early God-names. 
Apparitions, ghosts, and spirits make up a large element in 
north English folk-lore, for which the geographical and climatic 
conditions are no doubt chiefly answerable. The attachment 
of certain families to the district on the basis of ancient clan 
customs leads to the preservation of family traditions of great 
interest, and the descent of the Drummelzier from a river god 
(p. 42) is noted from Sir Walter Scott. Family apparitions seem 
to have been taken over by the Society for Psychical Research, 
and the group found on pp. 183-188 may be referred to with 
some interest. Well-worship, river-worship, and fire-worship 
are distinctive features of the beliefs recorded of northern 
Britain, but in the last of these groups Mr. Denham has 
missed many important details which have been recorded by 
later enquirers. Stones and stone circles have also an im- 
portant place in these collections, but animals are not so well 
represented as might have been supposed. Whether this is due 
to deficient record or whether it is a characteristic feature of 
northern belief might be made a matter for enquiry. 

Mr. Denham was in no sense a literary man, and his peculiar 
practice of issuing these tracts sometimes without date or other 
means of identification makes it extremely difficult to ascertain 
whether all he published on folk-lore has been recovered. There 
is no complete, collection, I believe, extant The Society of 
Antiquaries of London has a great many of the originals, 
but the British Museum library is very deficient. Dr. Hardy, 
too, has a good collection. It often happened that a tract was 
issued as a simple leaflet, and that later on this would be included 
in another tract without any alteration of or allusion to the original 
publication. This has made it difficult to pick out and arrange 
the material, and in two instances (pp. 121-124, 132-135- 258- 
261, 262-5,) the same material has been unfortunately printed 


twice. I did not discover this until it was too late to cancel the 
pages, and no doubt if Dr. Hardy had been well enough to see the 
whole volume through the press this inadvertence would not 
have happened. 

This volume does not contain a reprint of the Proverhs and 
Popular Sayings published by the Percy Society, but with this 
exception it is believed that all the scattered tracts on folk- 
lore aro comprised in the two volumes now issued by the 

The Society is greatly indebted to Dr. Hardy for the work 
he has done. He prepared the whole volume for the press, and 
added from his own store of Denham Tracts some that the 
Society had not been able to obtain. But the trying weather of 
last winter stopped all his work, and left him unable to pursue 
what has been the pleasure and delight of a long and busy 

G. Lauuence Gomme. 

2/ f , Dorset Square, N. IK 
May, 1895. 




For the want of a recording pen, innumerable are the ancient 
and interesting local rhymes, customs, legends, and valuable 
portions of history which have been irremediably lost and 
gathered up by time into his wallet, as offerings to oblivion. 

Midsummer Cushions. 

This was a custom, used some seventy years ago at many 
places in the North of England ; but it, like almost every other 
of the innocent and pleasing customs and amusements of our 
fore-elders, is fast vanishing away, if it has not altogether done 
so. The young lads and lasses of the town or village having 
procured a cushion or, in accordance with local phraseology, a 
whishion, and covered it with calico, or silk of showy and 
attractive colour, proceeded to bedeck it with every variety 
of flower which they could procure out of their parents' and 
more wealthy neighbours' gardens, displaying them in such a 
manner so as to give it a most beautiful appearance. All this 
done, they placed themselves, with their cushion of Flora's 
choicest gems, in the most public place they conveniently could, 
VOL. n. b 


soliciting of every passer-by a trifling present of pence, which, 
in numerous cases, was liberally and cheerfully bestowed. A 
set form of words was made use of (in rhyme, I believe) when 
soliciting those gifts, the precise version of which I have never 
been able to obtain. 

This custom prevailed from Midsummer Day to Magdalene 
Day, which latter has long been corrupted to " Maudlin Day." 

The Mell Day, or Harvest Home. 

In the counties of Durham and York, the last day of reaping 
with each individual farmer, is honoured above all others. This 
day is known throughout the north by the appellation of " Mell 
Day." The reapers (or shearers as they are popularly called), 
on this auspicious day, are entertained with the melodious 
sounds of a fiddle. An hour or two before the last and lucky 
cut the village musician is sent for to proceed with all haste to 
the harvest field, where he is expected to play some of his 
merriest tunes ; to the sounds of which, at intervals, the 
shearers, binders, and their kind-hearted master, join in social 
dance. When the last handful is bound up in the golden sheaf, 
and the sheaves are all placed upright in lots of ten or twelve 
each, locally called stooks, the farmer's head man, or some 
other elderly male person employed during harvest, proceeds 
with most stentoriaii voice to " Shout the Mell," which is 
celebrated in the following rhymes : 

Blest be the day that Christ was born, 

We've getten 't mell of Mr. 's corn ; 

Weel bound, and better shorn. 

Hip ! Hip ! Hip ! Huzza ! ! Huzza ! ! 

The labourers on this day are plentifully regaled with as <"ood 
ale or strong beer as can be procured in the neighbourhood ; to 
which is often added, by way of stimulus, a pretty liberal 


addition from the rum bottle. This seldom fails to send home 
some of the fair maids, as well as the ancient dames of the 
village, chirping merry. Some years ago the masters used to 
treat the reapers with a supper, called the Mell Supper ; but 
this custom, with very few exceptions, is now totally laid aside, 
and in consideration of this deviation from ancient custom, their 
employers give them a shilling each in addition to the regular 
wages of that day. This shilling is called the Mell Shilling. 
When dancing had become general after the supper, these 
parties used to be attended by Mummers ; that is, men and 
women disguised in each other's apparel, &c. &c. This is in the 
dialect of the district termed Cruising, and the individuals them- 
selves Guisers. In the years 1825 and 1826 I saw the reapers 
come home from the Mell Field in the evening, dressed in high 
crowned muslin caps, profusely ornamented with ribbons of 
various colours, and preceded by music. 

Feasts of Dedication. 

u Wakes, church ales, summerings, tides, rush-bearings, 
revels, gants,* hoppings, fairs, vigils, ale feasts, or Whitsun ales, 
are anniversary feasts, great numbers of which are still kept in 
the counties of Durham and Northumberland in all their primi- 
tive glory and rude yet hearty hospitality, in commemoration of 
the dedication of the parish church or parochial chapel to some 
patron saint. Hopping is derived from the Anglo-Saxon 
' hoppan ' to dance or leap. Dances in the country villages 
of the north of England are termed hops at the present period 
of time. By an act of Convocation passed in the reign of 
Henry VIII., the Feast of the Dedication was ordered to be 
held on the first Sunday in October, and the celebration of the 

* [Gnnt, a village fair or wake. — East (HallhTell). Not in 



Saint's day to be laid aside. In Somersetshire these sports are 
termed plays. In the west of England rails and rowls. 

In the county of Durham a series of local feasts begin the 
last Sunday in July, and proceed, I think, in the following 
order : Neasham, Hurworth, Aldbrough, Stapleton, Blackwell, 
Cockerton, Haughton-le-Skerne, Harrowgate, Burdon, Sad- 
berge, Goatham, Brafferton, and Aycliffe. Duck-hunting, 
racing, drinking, banqueting, and all sorts of secular sports 
are the order of the day on the Sabbath, and a day or two 
afterwards. — Longstaffe's Hist. Darlington, p. 242. 

Riding the Stang. 

Once upon a time there resided in the village of G[ainfor]d, 
in com. Dunelm (the place of the writer's nativity), a man 
and his wife of the name of Lamb. Now, for the first time in 
his life (and they had been married some dozen years or more), 
the old gentleman had been guilty of some venial delinquency, 
which his good wife considered of so flagrant a nature that her 
passion could not exhaust itself simply by giving him a " reet 
good setting down " (i.e. a good scolding), but to work the old 
lady set herself and gave him a most severe beating, or, as we 
Northerners term it, a threshing, into the bargain. Some 
neighbours chancing to pass during the hubbub heard the 
whole scrimmage between the old man and his better half. 
Then Fame, with her thousand tongues, bruited the tale abroad, 
and not without adding that much which made the little into 
a mickle. A consultation was held at the smith's shop, and it 
was unanimously agreed, that the stang be ridden for Mrs. 
Lamb. Well, the appointed night arrived, when, in accordance 
with " aunciente custome," a person, as proxy for the real 
delinquent, mounted the stang (a ladder, by-the-bye, for the 
comfort and convenience of the rider) and called aloud the 


following doggrell rhvmes at the full extent of his voice, the 
whole length and breadth of the village : — 

With a ran, tan, tan, on an old tin can, 
And a hey tinkle, how tinkle, hey tinkle tang ; 
It isn't for your sake, nor my sake, that I ride 't stang, 
But it is lor the avvde Yowe * that threshest poor Lamb. 
Hip ! Hip ! Huzza ! ! Huzza ! ! ! 

She bang'd him, she bang'd him, she bang'd him, indeed ; 
She bang'd him reet weel afore he stood need ; 
She nowther take stick, staan, staff, nor stower, 
But she up with her neif and she knock'd him ower, and ower, 
and ower, and ower. 

Hip ! Hip ! Huzza ! ! Huzza ! ! ! 

She next tuke up an awde three-footed stule, 
And she called him a bizon, and an awde drunken fule ; 
And then hit him sae hard, and cut him sae deep, 
That the blude ran down his legs and into his shoes, 
Like the blude of a new stuck sheep. 

Hip ! Hip ! Huzza ! ! Huzza ! ! ! 

Now if ivver I hears tell, that she again rebels, 
Or that he complains of us ridin 't stang, 

Then we'll all come again, 

And we'll ride't stang again, 
With a ran tan, ran tan, tang, 
And a hey tinkle, how tinkle, hey tinkle, tang. 

Hip ! Hip I Huzza ! ! Huzza ! ! Huzza ! ! ! 

[In the pit villages near Gateshead Fell there is another 

* Observe the pun upon the name of Lamb, to wit, " Yowe," i.e. 
a female sheep which has had young. From the above incident arose 
the saying, " Aye, the old Yowe is the better Tupe " ; and, though it 
is now more than fifty years ago, it is still repeated when the occasion 
serves by the ancients of the village. 


variety of " Bidin' the Stang," not "meant as a mark of 
disgrace, as it is in many others ; on the contrary, it is rather 
a mark of honour." The morning after a young man is married, 
he is mounted upon a " board or pole, and carried to the public 
house upon the shoulders of two men, where he is expected to 
give the pit's crew a ' blaw out.' The last married man is 
always chosen mayor, and undergoes the same operation. Both 
these events produce 'gaudy days.' " 

They myed me ride the stang as suin 
As aw show'd fyace at wavk agyen. 
The upshot was a gaudy-day, 
A grand blaw-out wi' Grundy's yell.' 

Wilson's Pitman's Pay, p. 51. — J. H.] 

[Gaudy Day — Cuckoo Mornin' &c. 

" In the pit villages near Gateshead Fell, there are certain 
times of the year when the young men and lads refuse to work, 
and insist on a ' gaudy day ;' for instance, the first morning 
they hear the cuckoo, and when the turnips and peas are at 
maturity. They call these periods, ' a cuckoo mornin',' ' a 
tormit [turnip] mornin',' and ' a pea mornin'.' At such times 
they frequently adjourn to a neighbouring publichouse, where 
they enjoy themselves during a great part of the day. 

Charles Lamb, in his Recollections of Christ's Hospital, when 
adverting to the festivities of Christmas, says ' the richest of us 
would then club our stock to have a gaudy day.' " — Wilson's 
Pitman's Pay, pp. 46, 47, note. — J. H.] 

Barring Out. 

This was a practice once very common in schools of a superior 
class throughout the whole of England, but most general in the 
north. It was generally practised about the period of St. 


Nicholas's Day (6th December), who, it may be proper to 
remark, was the chosen patron of schoolboys. On this day was 
formerly celebrated the semi-impious Roman Catholic farce of 
the Boy Bishop, one of whom, in the year 1229, was permitted 
to say vespers before King Edward I, at the Chapel of Heton, 
near Newcastle on Tyne ; and the king was so much pleased 
with his youthful chaplain and choral followers that he made 
them a considerable present. The Eton Mnntem is evidently a 
substitution for the (ir)religious ceremony of one partaking of a 
military character. Some seventy or eighty years ago, vestiges 
of these medieval, at least, if not primeval, customs were retained 
in several of the grammar schools of the whole of the north of 
England. Brand says that he heard the custom was retained 
in the Dean and Chapter's schools, in the city of Durham, and 
that the same practice prevailed in the Kepicr School, of 
Houghton-le-Spring, in the county of Durham. It was also 
practised at the grammar schools of Bowes, in the county of 
York ; and at those of Scotby, Wetheral, and Warwick, in 
Cumberland ; and Kirkby Stephen, in Westmoreland. A writer 
in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1791, vol. lxi., p. 1170, men- 
tioning some local customs of Westmoreland and Cumberland, 
says : — 

" In September or October, the master is locked out of the 
school by the scholars, who, previously to his admittance, give 
an account of the different holidays for the ensuing year, which 
he promises to observe, and signs his name to the orders, as 
they are called, with two bondsmen. The return of these 
signed orders is the signal of capitulation ; the doors are 
immediately opened ; beef, beer, and wine, deck the festive 
board, and the day is spent in mirth." 

In the statutes of Witton School, near North wich, in Cheshire, 
founded a.d. 1558, the observance of this practice by the 
scholars is specially directed. See Carlisle, " Description of 


Endowed Grammar Schools," vol. i. p. 133. It prevailed also 
at Rothbury in Northumberland, ibid. vol. ii. p. 259. Hutchin- 
son, in his History of Cumberland, vol. ii. p. 322, says this 
custom was used by the scholars of the free school of Brom- 
field or Brumfield, in that county, about the beginning of 
Lent, or in the more expressive phraseology of the county, at 
Fasten's Even. 

An ancient schoolmaster repeated to the writer the follow- 
ing stanza of a Barring-out Rhyme, used at a school in com. 
Ebor nearly sixty years ago. 

"Orders! Master! Orders! 
Orders we do crave ; 
And if you wont grant us orders, 
Orders we will have. 
Although we are but little boys, 
We are both stiff and stout ; 
And if you won't grant us orders, 
We'll keep you longer out." 

Although the above may form only one half or may be but 
one-third or fourth of the grand total of the poetical address 
issued on these privileged days — for I have cause to believe 
that the whole of the holidays claimed for the ensuing twelve 
months were strung up together in equally uncopth verses — 
I still have thought it worth " Chronicling in a Boke," hoping 
that either myself, or some kind and charitable reader, may 
be able to add the remanet at a later period of time. 

The Wassail or Loving Cup. 

A relic of this primitive and good old Christmas custom is 
still retained to a much greater extent than hitherto I was 
aware of, in the counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland • 
and here, too, the equally good old-fashioned practice of little 


family parties at this period of the year is also continued. The 
Wassail or Loving Cup, is introduced long ere the visitors 
separate, the contents of which are composed of a liberal 
quantum of good old Jamaica rum, hot water, sugar, and lemon 
prepared in a large china basin, or small punch bowl. This 
is first partaken of by the master and dame, drinking to the 
health of each individual of the assembled party ; it is then 
handed round to each, who, also, taking the bowl in both 
hands, drinks to the health and happiness of the whole assem- 
bly. By the time the loving cup has passed through the 
hands of all present, the mirth-inspiring beverage has roused 
the spirits of one and all to trip it in the mazy dance. 

Fig-Sue. Good Friday. 

The customary dish of Fig Sue is still prepared, and alone 
partaken of for dinner on this day, by many families through- 
out the whole of the North of England. The dish is a com- 
position of figs, ale, white bread, sugar, and nutmeg. I 
never tasted the mess, but those who have, tell me that it is 
most excellent. 


The children in many districts in the North of England thus 
address any male person, whom they see returning from fair 
or market : — 

" Cowper, Cowper, a nag or a knowt, 
If you please will ye give me a fairing ? " 

Charm for the Toothache. 

The following really curious traditional rhyme I took down 
from the narration of a gentleman still living, and caused the 
same to be given in the Literary Gazette, and Mr. Halliwell's 


really valuable and interesting little book, Popular Rhymes and 
Nursery Tales of England. London, 1849. 

Peter was sitting on a marble stone, 

And Jesus passed by ; 
Peter said, " My Lord ! My God ! 

How my tooth doth ache ! " 
Jesus said, " Peter art whole ! 

And whoever keeps these words for my sake, 
Shall never have the toothache ! " — Amen. 

Mr. Halliwell records in his book the following various 
version of the above rhymes, as used in one of the Yorkshire 
dales ; and in conclusion, says that he has " been informed on 
credible authority, that the trade of selling efficacies of this kind 
is far from obsolete in the remote rural districts " : 

"As Sant Petter sat at the Geats of Jerusalem our Blessed 
Lord and Sevour Jesus Crist pased by and sead, What Eleth 
thee hee sead Lord My Teeth Ecketh he sead arise and folow 
Mee and thy Teeth shall Never Eake Eney More, fiat X 
fiat X fiat X-" [The Virgin Mary is the sufferer in a similar 
charm for toothache in the Physicians of Myddvai, p. 453.] 
Another charm is given in Aubrey's Miscellanies, p. 141. 

A Saturday's Moon. 

A Saturday's change, and a Sunday's prime, 
Was nivver a good mune in nea man's time. 

Dr. Forster, of Bruges, well known as a meteorologist, 
declares that by the journal kept by his grandfather, father, 
self, ever since 1767, to the present time, whenever the new 
moon has fallen on a Saturday, the following twenty days have 
been wet and windy, in nineteen cases out of twenty. 

folklore of the north of england. 11 

Charm Prayers. 

The following charm prayer is used at this day in Westmore- 
land and is taught by mothers as well as nurses to young 
children, and is repeated by them on retiring to rest: 

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, 

God bless this bed that I lie on ; 

If anything appear to me, 

Sweet Christ arise and comfort me. 

Four corners to this bed, 

Four angels round my head,* 

One to pray, one to wake, 

Two to guard mo till day -break. 

And blessed guardian-angels keep 

Me safe from dangers while I sleep. 

I lay me down upon my side. 

I pray the Lord to be my guide ; 

And if I die before 1 wake, 

I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen. 

The following prayer is, I understand, used in the county of 
Norfolk : 

I lay me down to rest me, 
I pray to God to bless me ; 
And if I sleep and never wake, 
I pray the Lord my soul to take, 
This night for evermore. Amen. 

Two articles on ancient Paternosters have already appeared 
in the Folk-Lore Record, vols, i and ii, the first by W. J. 
Thorns, Esq., the second by Miss Evelyn Carrington ; of these 

* Varia. — Six angels round me spread, 
Two to sing, and two to pray, 
And two to carry my soul away. 


Mr. Denham's examples present other varieties. In Sinclair's 
Satan's Invisible World Discovered, ed. 1815, thsre are some 
out-of-the-way Scotch specimens, which may be placed along- 
side of these last. Agnes Simpson, condemned for witchcraft 
in the time of James VI. of Scotland, was a sort of white witch. 
She taught ignorant people, two prayers, " The Black and 
White Pater Noster in Metre, in set forms, to be used morning 
and evening, and at other times when occasion offereth." 

White Pater Noster. 

" God was my foster, 
He fostered me 
Under the book of palm tree 
Saint Michael was my dame. 
He was born at Bethlehem, 
He was made of flesh and blood. 
God send me my right food ; 
My right food, and dyne too, 
That I may to yon kirk go, 
To read upon yon sweet book, 
Which the mighty God of heaven shook. 
Open, open, heaven's yaits; 
Steik, steik, hell's yaits. 
All saints be the better, 
That hear the White Prayer, Pater Noster." 

The Black Pater Noster runs thus : 

" Four neuks in this house for haly angels, 
A post in the midst, that's Christ Jesus,' 
Lucas, Marcus, Matthew, Joannes, 
God be into this house, and all that belans? us." * 

pp. 19, 20. 


"At night, in the time of Popery, when folks went to bed they 
believed the repetition of the following prayer was effectual to 
preserve them from danger, and the house too. 

" Who sains the house the night ? 
They that sains it ilka night. 
Saint Bryde and her brat, 
Saint Colme and his hat, 
Saint Michael and his spear, 
Keep this house from the weir ; 
From running thief ; 
And burning thief ; 
And from a' ill Rea, 
That be the gate can gae ; 
And from an ill wight, 
That be the gate can light. 
Nine reeds about the house ; 
Keep it all the night. 
What is that what I see, 
So red, so bright, beyond the sea ? 
'Tis he was pierced through the hands, 
Through the feet, through the throat, 
Through the tongue ; 
Through the liver, through the lung. 
Well is them that well may 
Fast on Good-Friday."* 

"A country man in East Lothian used this grace always before 
and after meat. 

Lord be blessed for all his gifts, 
Defy the devil and all his shifts ; 
God sond me mair siller. — Amen." f 

148. f P- 149. 

14 the denham tkacts. 

Bhymes on Mountains in the Noete op England which indicate 
the Weather. 

1. When Eoseberry Topping wears a cap, 
Let Cleayeland then beware of a rap. 

2. When Eoseberrye Toppingc wears a cappe, 
Let Cleveland then beware a clappe. — Camden. 

3. When Eston-Knab puts on a cloake, 

And Eoseberrye a cappe, 
Then all the folks on Cleaveland's clay, 
Ken there will be a clappe. 

4. When Eoseberry Topping wears a hat, 
Morden Cam will suffer for that. 

Roseberry Topping is the name of a lofty conical- shaped hill 
in the North Riding of the county of York. The rap and clappe 
alluded to in the rhymes is, in plain language, a thunder storm. 
Camden observes, that when the top of this hill " begins to be 
darkened with clouds, rain generally follows " ; hence the 
ancient distich. Morden Carrs is in the county of Durham, 
near Sedgfield. 

If Eiving-pike do wear a hood, 

Be sure that day will ne'er be good. — Lancashire. 

When Gelt puts on his night-cap 'tis sure to rain. 

— Cumberland. 
When Skiddaw hath a cap, 
Scruffell wots full well of that. 

— Cumberland, and Annandale in Scotland. 

When Hood-hill has on his cap, 

Hamilton's sure to come down with a clap. — Yorkshire. 

When Knipe-scar gets a hood, 

Sackworth may expect a flood.— Westmoreland. 


Guy Fawkes ; or, Fifth of November Ehymes. 

A doggrel hominy roared (not sung) at the full extent of the 
voices of two or three dozen lads at Kirkby Stephen in West- 
moreland, on the eve of the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, 
when making progresses in order to collect money for the pur- 
chase of gunpowder and tar-barrels. I took it down from the 
oral recitation of a lad who had, on many occasions, acted his 
part therein, like a true stentor : 

Hollo boys, hollo boys, 

Let the bells ring ! 
Hollo boys, hollo boys, 

God save the King ! 
Pray to remember 
The fifth of November, 

Gunpowder, treason, and plot, 
When the King and his train, 
Had nearly been slain, 

Therefore it shall not be forgot. 

Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkee, 

And his companions, 

Strove to blow all England up ; 

But God's mercy did prevent, 

And saved our King and his parliament. 

Happy was the man, 

And happy was the day, 
That God caught Guy, 

Going to his play, 
With a dark lanthorn, 
And a brimstone match, 
Ready for the prime to touch. 


As I was going through the dark entry, 

I spied the devil, 

Stand back ! Stand back ! 
Queen Mary's daughter, 
Put your hand in your pocket, 
And give us some money 
To kindle our bon-fire ! 

Huzza ! Huzza ! Huzza ! 

I can give no explanation of this, further than that I take it to 
be intended as a compliment to the mistress of the mansion : 
" Queen Mary's daughter " — I cannot tell what it means ! I 
put the question as to its meaning to the reciter when I com- 
mitted it to paper, but he could throw no light on it. His 
answer was, "Aw larnt it sae, and aw knaw na mair." 

Singular Will. 

The following singular will was proved at York in the year 
of our Lord 1771 : — 

This is my last will, 
I insist on it still, 
So sneer on and welcome, 
And e'en laugh your fill : 
I, William Hickington, 
Poet of Pocklington, 
Do give and bequeath, 
As free as I breathe, 
To thee, Mary Jarem, 
The queen of my harem, 
My cash and my cattle, 
With every chattel, 
To have and to hold, 
Come heat or come cold, 
Sans hindrance or strife, 
Tho' thou'rt not my wife. 


As witness my hand 
Just here as I stand, 
This twelfth day of July, 
In the year seventy. 

William Hickington. 

Schoolboy Bhymes. 
A rhyme for the twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity : 

Stir up, we beseech thee, 

The puddings in the pot ; 
And when we get home, 

We'll eat them all hot. 

The following, as also the still more popular saying "All my 
eye and Betty Martin," had its origin during the period in 
which the Church of Rome was in its " downward progress " in 
the British Isles. It formed one of the many Protestant flings 
at Popery, and though not the most dignified, was perhaps not 
the least effectual among the many instruments of the Reforma- 
tion. It, too, like Betty Martin, is a parody on what the 
members of the Romish Church held sacred : — 

Hail Mary ! full of grace, 
I'opu-lariy, curtail face ; 
Egg shells, goose quills, 
Knobsticks, sparrow bills. 

Shrove-Tide Rhyme. 

Shrove Sunday, 

Collop Monday, Pancake Tuesday, 
Ash Wednesday, Bloody Thursday, 
Friday's lang, but will be dune, 
Then hey for Setterday efternune. 



Good Friday Rhyme. 

One a penny buns, two a penny buns, 

One a penny, two a penny, hot X buns, 

Butter them and sugar them, and put them in your minis. 

Rhymes on Bathing. 

He who bathes in May, 
Will soon be laid in clay ; 
He who bathes in June, 
Will sing a merry tune' ; 
He who bathes in July, 
Will dance like a fly. 

Book Rhymes. 
In the library of the Dean and Chapter of Durham is an 
ancient Missale Romanorum, once the property of the church of 
Hutton Kudby, Yorkshire, as we learn from the following 
quaint rhymes contained in the bowke itself : — 

Whoso owne me dothe loke, 

I am ye Chourche of Rudby's bowke ; 

Whoso dothe saye ye contrary, 

I reporte me to awll ye parysshyngby. 

This book was given by Samuel Davidson, Esq., to the Rev. 
George Davenport, Rector of Houghton-le- Spring, and was by 
him, in 1662, given to the library left by Bishop Cosin to the 
clergy of the Diocese of Durham. 

Rhyme on Bulmeu Stone, Daklington. 

In Darnton towne ther is a stane, 

And most strange is yt to tell, 
That yt turnes nine times round aboute 

When yt hears ye clock strike twell. 

This truly wonderful revolving stone, though ny-the-by it is 


not singular in this property, stands in the front of some low 
cottages constituting Northgate House, in the street bearing the 
same name (See Longstaffe's Hist. Darlington, p. 164). It is a 
water-worn boulder-stone of Shap (Westmorland) granite. 

Shrove Tuesday Rhymes. 

When the pancake bell begins to knell, 
The frying-pan begins to smell. 

Pancakes were anciently an universal dish on this festival ; 
I myself have often partaken of them. Shrove Tuesday in the 
North of England is generally called Pancake Tuesday. A dish 
of fritters is usual in France on this day and the following 
Thursday. See Hone's Year Book, 146, 7, 8, 9. In Lanca- 
shire hot pancakes arc to this day introduced at the tea table on 
Shrove Tuesday. 

"Fit as a pancake for Shrove Tuesday," is a very old popular 

The Calgaiith Skull. 

There is an extraordinary skull preserved with great care at 
Calgarth Park, near Applethwaite in Westmoreland, of which 
tradition says, that if brayed to powder at night it is regularly 
found in its perfect state placed on the hall table next morning. 
I understand there is a very curious legend in connection with 
this skull, which I have in vain endeavoured to obtain. 

Magpie Rhymes. 

According to the number of magpies you sec at one and the 
same time when going on a journey, etc. &c. you may calculate 
your good or ill luck, as follows : — 

( >ne for sorrow, 
Two for luck (vavia mirth) ; 
C 2 


Three for a wedding, 

Four for death (yaria a birth) ; 

Five for silver (yaria rich) ; 

Six for gold (varia poor) ; 

Seven for a secret 

Not to be told ; 

Eight for heaven, 

Nine for h , 

And ten for the deevil's awn sell ! 

Sir Humphrey Davy in his Salmonida has a note on those 
verses. The following are a few of the local names for tins 
Devil's bird : nanpie, chatter-pie, maggy ; in Kent it is called 
a haggister ; in Lancashire, a pyanot ; Cotgrave in his Dic- 
tionary gives " magatapie." In Northumberland it is called 
pyanot, and I have somewhere seen it spelt maggot-pie. At 
the sight of one magpie, the good folks in Westmoreland make 
use of the following charm to avert the ill omen : 

Magpie, magpie, chatter and flee, 
Turn up thy tail and good luck fall me. 

But I have been credibly told that the act of making the sign 
of the cross on the ground is a much more effectual charm ! 

A North Cocntrie Farmer's Soliloquy on the Prospects of 
his Hay Harvest. 

Wilt thou be hay ? 

Nay ! 

Wilt thou be fother (fodder) ? 

I'll be nowther ! 

Wilt thou be muck ? 

That's my luck ! 

Animal Sacrifice at Christian- Burials (?). 
In the month of August, 1849, in excavating the earth within 


Staindrop Collegiate Church in order to build the flues for 
warming the sacred edifice, the skeleton of a human body was 
exhumed, which was generally supposed to be one of the Lordly 
Nevilles of Eaby Castle in the Bishopric, at whose feet were 
found the bones of a dog of the greyhound breed. It would be 
worth the trouble of inquiry could we ascertain the fact whether 
this primitive custom of slaying and interring a favourite animal 
with the body of its owner was occasionally retained in the 
Christian Church down to the period of the thirteenth or 
fourteenth centuries. We read of one of " The Noble Nevilles," 
whose war-horse, armed in battle array, preceded the body of 
its master at his interment in Durham Priory Church. The 
horse, however, in this case was not slain, but given to the said 
church as a portion of its owner's mortuary payment. — See 
Journal of Archceological Institute, vol. vi. p. 436. 

Weather Proverbs. 

Easterly winds and rain, 
Bring cockles here from Spain. 

As the season in which cockles are in the greatest supply is 
generally the most stormy in the year, the sailors' wives at the 
seaport towns in Durham and Northumberland consider the cry of 
the cocklo-man as the harbinger of bad weather ; and the sailor, 

The following pages (21-80) are from another tract entitled 
" Folklore ; or Manners, Customs, "Weather Proverbs, Popular 
Charms, Juvenile Ilhymcs, Ballads, &c. &c. in the north of 


when he hears the cry of " cockles alive " on a dark, wintry 
night, concludes that a storm is at hand, and breathes a prayer 
backwards for the soul of bad- weather Greordy ! 

[Chatto's Rambles in Northumberland and on the Scottish 
Border, p. 207.] 

Rain Rhymes. 

There are several infantile rhymes used as charms for or 
against rain, viz. : — 

1. Rain, rain, go away, 
Come again another day. 

2. Rain, rain, gang to Spain, 
And never come here again. 

3. Rain, rain, pour down, 

And come na' mair to our towne. 

4. Rain, rain, gang away, 

And come again on Midsummer day. 

5. Rain, rain, go away, 

Come again to-morrow day ; 
When I brew and when I bake, 
I'll give you a little Rake. 

C. Rain, rain, go to Spain, 
Fair weather come again. 

7. Rain, rain, go away, 

And come again on Saturday. 

8. Rain, rain, faster, 
Bull's in the pasture, 

Cow's in the meadow (varia clover), 
Sheep's in the corn. 


Khymes on the Winds, &c. 

When 't wind's in 't east, 
Cauld and snaw comes 't neist ; 
When 't wind's in 't west, 
It suits 't farmer best ; 
When 't wind's in 't north, 
Wc ha' to sup het scalding broth ; 
When 't wind's in 't south, 
It's muck up to 't mouth, 

A dry August and warm 
Doth the harvest no harm ; 
But a rainy August, 
Makes a hard-bread crust. 

At St. Barthol'mew, 

Then comes cold dew. (24 August.) 

Vulgar Errors. 

1. It is an article in the vulgar creed that if a female appeal's 
abroad, and receives either insults or blows from any of her 
neighbours, previous to the ceremony of churching, after giving 
birth to a child, she has no remedy at law. Neither must a 
mother enter the house of either friend, relative, or neighbour, 
till she has been churched. If she is so uncanny, it betokens ill 
luck to the parties so visited. 

2. The popular belief of the earth no more growing grass 
where a foul and bloody murder has been committed is very 
common, and singularly supported by the Field of the Forty 
Footsteps, near London, where two brothers fought a duel, and 
took each other's life, about a love affair. See Southpy's 
Common Place Book, second series, p. 21 ; Miss Porter's novel, 


Forty Footsteps. There is also a dramatic piece which bears 
this name. This spot of ground was built upon about tlie year 
1800. The exact spot whereon tradition says " poor old Willy 
Eobinson " was murdered on Holwick Fell, in Teesdale, 1794, 
is positively asserted by a living eye witness to have remained a 
barren waste ever since. 

3. If the finger or toe nails of an infant are cut previous to 
its attaining the age of twelve months, it will prove a thief in 
mature age. Mothers and nurses beware ; and mind you con- 
tinue the good old fashioned custom of " nibbling." 

4. I once saw an aged matron turn her apron to the new 
moon to ensure good luck for the ensuing month. 

5. There is a tradition that Judas Iscariot had a head of black 
hair and a red beard ; this belief may have given rise to the 
proverb, " He is false by nature that hath a black head and a 
red beard." 

6. Never allow any one to take a light out of your house on 
New Year's Day ; a death in the household before the expira- 
tion of the year is sure to occur if it be allowed. Never throw 
any ashes, dirty water, or anything, however worthless, out of 
your house on this day ; to do so betokens ill luck ; but you 
may bring in as much honestly gotten goods as your means 
allow, and a blessing will attend their spending. If a female is 
your first visitant, and be permitted to enter your house on the 
morning of New Year's Day, it portendeth ill luck for the 
whole year. 

7. The forefinger of the right hand is considered by the 
common people as venomous, and consequently is never used in 
applying anything to a wound or sore. 

8. If a child tooths first in its upper jaw it is considered 
ominous of its dying in its infancy. 

9. Good Friday and Easter Sunday are both considered as 
lucky days on which to cast the caps of young children. 


Tdddening Infants. 

The ancient offering of an egg, a handful of salt, and a bunch 
of matches, to a young child on its first visit to the house of a 
neighbour is still very prevalent in many parts of the North of 
England at the present period. In the neighbourhood of Leeds 
the ceremony is called " puddening," and the child is said to be 
"puddened." There is no doubt but that these three offer- 
ings are typical of the resurrection of the dead, the immor- 
tality of the soul, and of the lake that burnetii, &c.— See 
Brockett's Glossary of Nor lit Country Words, vol. i. p. 90, art. 
" Child's First Visit." 

Christmas Observances. 

To send a " Vessle-cup Singer " away from your doors unre- 
quited (at least the first that comes) is to forfeit the good luck 
of all the approaching year. Every family that can possibly 
afford it at least have a Yule cheese and Yule cake provided 
against Christmas eve, and it is considered very unlucky to cut 
either of them before that festival of all festivals. A tall mould 
candle, called a Yule candle, is lighted in the evening and set 
upon the table, these candles are presented by the chandlers 
and grocers to their customers. The Yule Log is either bought 
of the carpenter's apprentice or found in some neighbour's field. 
It would be unlucky to light either the log or candle till the proper 
period; so also it is considered unlucky to stir the fire or move 
the candlestick during the supper, neither must the candle be 
snuffed, nor any one stir from the table till supper is ended. In 
these suppers it is considered unlucky to have an odd number 
at table, especially so if thirteen. This latter piece of supersti- 


tion is evidently taken from the last supper partaken of by our 
blessed Saviour and his twelve apostles. A fragment of the log 
is occasionally saved and put under a bed to remain till next 
Christmas, it secures the house from fire, and a small piece of it 
thrown into a fire (occurring at the house of a neighbour) will 
quell the raging element. A piece of the candle should be kept 
to ensure good luck. No person, except boys, must presume to 
go out of doors till the threshold has been consecrated by the 
footsteps of a male. The entrance of a woman on the morning 
of this day, as well as on that of the .New Tear, is considered as 
the height of ill-luck. St. Stephen's day in the north is devoted 
pretty generally to hunting and shooting, the game laws being 
considered as not in force on that day. 

All Souls' Day. 

A few thrifty, elderly housewives still practice the old custom 
of keeping a soul mass-cake (2nd November) for good luck. 
The Rev. George Young, in his History of Wliiiby (Yorkshire), 
says : " A lady in Whitby has a soul mass-loaf nearly a hun- 
dred years old." 


The fairest lady in this land, 
Was drown'd at Mont Ferrand. 

This dark saying of antiquity was quoted by one of the 
members of tho Archaeological Institute, at their meetino- 
holden at York, in July, 1846. At Montferant, or Montferand 
are the foundations of an ancient castle. Of the origin of the 
rhyme I am totally ignorant ; mayhap some " honest Yorkshire" 


fellow traveller in the same mazy paths of antiquity can throw- 
some light upon it. 

A Nuesery Song. 

The following beautiful little nursery song, which I took 
down from the recitation of a female relative, now no more, is 
unquestionably the gem of baby literature. It was communi- 
cated by me to J. 0. Halliwell, Esq., F.R.S., and by him given 
in the fourth edition of the Nursery Rhymes of England, and 
again in his Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales, 1849, p. 163, 
in both cases without acknowledgment : — 

The Babes in the Wood. 

My dear do you know, 
How a long time ago, 

Two poor little children 
Whose names I don't know, 
Were stolen away, 
On a fine summer's day, 

And left in a wood, 
As I've heard people say. 

And when it was night, 
So sad was their plight ; 

The sun it went down, 
And the moon gave no light ! 
And they sobbed and they sigh'd, 
And they bitterly cried ; 

And, poor little things, 
They laid down and died ! 

And when they were dead, 
The robin so red 

Brought strawberry leaves, 
And over them spread ; 


And all the day long 
He sang them this song — 
Poor babes in the wood, 
Poor babes in the wood ! 

And don't you remember 
The babes in the wood ? 

The superstitious belief that the Eobin performs the office of 
covering 1 the dead bodies of the human species with leaves, 
&c, is noticed by Shakespeare, Drayton, and Webster. In 
the ballad of The Soldier's Repentance, the robin is invoked 
by the dying soldier to bury him when dead. Again, in the 
West Country DamoseVs Complaint, " mourning birds with 
leafy boughs " are said to have given a burial to her and her 
youthful lover. 

Ceetaine Dyshes for oeetaine Tymes. 

A turkey and mince-pie at Christmas ; a gammon of bacon on 
Easter Day; a goose on Michaelmas Day; oysters on St. 
James's Day ; a roast pig on St. Bartlemy's Day ; a fat hen at 
Shrovetide ; ham or bacon collops on Shrove Monday ; pancakes 
on Shrove Tuesday ; a male pullet and bacon on Fastens Day ; 
hot-cross buns on Good Friday ; bull beef at Candlemas ; 
pullets are in season during the whole of January, hence the 
proverb : — 

If you but knew how good it were 
To eat a pullet in Janivere, 
If you had but twenty in your flock, 
You'd leave but one to go with the cock. 

Eggs on the Saturday before Shrove Sunday ; a soul cake on 
All Souls' Day ; salmon and all kinds of fish in Lent, &c. &e. 

l j 


The Giant Cob. 

In the museum at Keswick is preserved an immensely large 
bone, said to be a rib of the Northumbrian giant Cor. A bone 
of Giant Wade's cow is, or was, shown at Mul grave Castle, 
Yorks. [The brother giants Cor, Ben, and Con are celebrated 
in Dr. John Carr's Ode to the Derwent. Bichardson's Table 
Book, Sfc, Leg. Div. i., p. 285. They resided at Corbridge 
in Northumberland, and Conset and Benfieldside in Durham.] 


Brough in Westmorland, and Reeth in the North Biding of 
Yorkshire sire two instances of towns enjoying the privilege of 
a market, but not having a church therein. St. David's, in 
Wales, is a city without a market. 

Vuloae Errors. 

1 . A long black hair from the mane or tail of a horse thrown 
into a running stream instantly becomes a living eel. When a 
school boy I perfectly recollect trying this experiment in the 
river Greata. 

2. If a fruit tree is topped with a saw it will die, and not 
spring afresh as intended. 

3. It was quite common when I was a lad, some forty years 
ago, to hear one's neighbour observe during a hurricane of 
wind, " There's been somebody at 't wise man this morning, 
and he's raised t' wind," and the saying is, even still, occa- 
sionally heard. 

4. I also recollect, on occasion of the death of a certain 
very wicked female neighbour of mine, now many years ago, 
one truly dreadful night of wind and rain, thunder and 
lightning, hearing that this awful tempest was caused by a 
visit of the devil to bear away the soul of to the infernal 


regions. And this portion of the popular creed is very widely 
diffused throughout the length and breadth of the north of 
England. Numerous are the chronicled instances which might 
be quoted in support of this ancient national dogma. The 
saying, " As busy as the devil in a gale of wind " is still used 
in the North. 

5. The common people, universally almost, connect subter- 
raneous passages with buildings of antiquity, especially if they 
are in a ruinous state. Communications of this sort are said to 
exist between the highly interesting but desecrated chapel of 
Old Richmond (on the Yorkshire banks, opposite Gainford), 
and Cliffe Hall, some three miles further down the Tees; also 
from St. Nicholas's to Easby Abbey, both in the vicinage of 
Richmond ; so likewise between Penrith Castle and Dockwray 
Hall, a distance of 307 yards ; also from Guisborough Priory to 
a parcel of land called the Tocketts. A secret passage was also 
connected with Anderson Place, Newcastle-on-Tyne. In con- 
nection with Guisborough passage a curious legend is told. 
Many other places might also be enumerated. 

6. The not yet exploded belief in Fairies connects itself with 
Fairy Slippers, Fairy Stones, Fairy Butter, Fairy Pipes (on 
which, by-the-bye, a curious article might be written), Fairy 
Cups, Fairy Cauldrons, Fairy "Wells, Fairy Hills, Fairy Rings, 
Fairy Money, Elf Locks, Elf Shots, Fairy Cakes, Fairy Javelins, 
Fairy Kettles, Fairy Loaves, Fairy Mushrooms, Elf Arrows, 
Puck Fists, Fairy Flax, Fairy Bells {i.e. the flower of the Fox- 
glove), Fairy Fingers, Fairy or Colpixy Heads, Elf Fire, Elf 
Knots, Fairy Saddles, etc., etc. [See pp. 110-111.] 

7. A bunch of ash keys carried in the hand preserves the 
bearer from witchcraft ; as also does the twig of the rowan or 

8. It is commonly believed that if a female has a boy and 
girl at ono birth she will never become pregnant again. 

folklore of the nokth of england. 3 1 


At Sheffield, pancakes are said to be thrown from the leads 
of the churches on Shrove Tuesday ; and it is there held as a 
sort of minor All Fools' Day ; for many are the children whom 
more foolish adults are guilty of sending on the bootless errand 
of catching them in their descent, the moment the church clock 
strikes twelve. 

In some farm houses it is still customary for the servants, 
male as well as female, according to seniority, to fry, and toss 
their pancakes ; but if they did not get it ate before the next 
one was enough, they were dragged out of the house, put into 
a wheelbarrow and whemmeled over upon the muck-midden. 


The ancient, but not very becoming, custom of lifting or 
stanging as it is called in Westmoreland, is still preserved in 
many of the towns and villages on New Year's Day. On this 
day the men lift the women upon a ladder or pole, and 
occasionally in a chair or swill, carried by two or more men, 
followed by a few dozens of youngsters, and hoist fliem away to 
the nearest public-house ; where they are required, by the law 
of prescriptive right, to call for a quart of ale, at tlic expense of 
the female equestrian. If this payment, or promise thereof, is 
not complied with, one of the lady's feet is denuded of its shoe, 
which is left in pledge with the ale-wife. It is, as may be 
supposed, always redeemed. 


'' The good man of the house." This term signifies head of 
the household, or chief of the clan. The word is still in popular 



This domestic utensil, now nearly out of use, yet still to be 
met with in the possession of old housekeepers, is a cylindrical 
box, formed originally of the bark of a certain tree, though 
now of wood, but more generally of tin. It was the case 
wherein candles were wont to be kept till wanted for use. 


In the north it is still customary in some districts to have a 
herb -pudding on day [a pudding of bitter herbs eaten 

in Passion Week] ; in the composition of which the Passion or 
Patience Dock, otherwise Eastern Giants* and young nettles, 
hold the chief place. 

The Quern Mill. 

Of the primitive household mills, many hundreds if not 
thousands, are still in existence, and many in the keeping of 
those who ken nothing either of their history or use. Dr. 
Johnson notices them as being still used in the Highlands at 
the period of his visit. 

Ball Playixg. 

This game commences on Pancake Tuesday, and continues 
without intermission till Easter. 

[* Rumex Patientia ; a native of Itaty, introduced into English 
cultivation in 1573. — Aiton's Hortua Kewensts, ii., p. 318. Patience 
Dock is also given in Glossaries as a name of Polygonum Bistorta in 
the North.] 


Old Shoe. 

When a young person is leaving his family and friends or 
going to bo married, it is still usual to throw an old shoe after 
him for luck. Many try to hit the party on the back. 

Virgin Garlands. 

This truly elegant custom has, I much fear, fallen into entire 
desuetude. May I, however, live to see its restoration. Ono 
of these votive garlands was solemnly borne before the coffin 
by two girls, who placed it on the coffin in the church during 
the reading of the church service for the burial of the dead. 
Thence it was conveyed in the same manner to the grave, and 
after the interment of the corpse was again taken to the church 
and carefully deposited on the skreen dividing the quire from 
the nave of the church, as an emblem of virgin purity, and of 
the frailty and uncertainty of human life. 

In Corydon's Doleful Knell, we read : — 

" A garland shall be framed 
By art and nature's skill, 
Of sundry coloured flowers, 
la token of good will.* 

New Year's Gifts. 
At Kirkby Stephen, Westmoreland, it is the custom for 

* Mr. Denham in his correspondence mentions having recently 
(22nd February, 1857) received a reduced facsimile of the virgin's 
funeral garland, from Westmoreland. " It is really beautiful. I have 
also an elegant specimen of a rush-bearer's garland from the same 
county. Also a curiously formed palm cross, in which the ornamen- 
tal parts are in various coloured silks ; but it falls far short of the 
other articles in beauty." 

VOL. It. D 


children to beg their New Year's Gifts on the eve of this day. 
Query. — Is this peculiar to the above county ? 

Holy "Wells. 

At Bowes, North Riding of Yorkshire, is one of those ancient ' 
springs or fountains which our ancestors looked upon as sacred. 
This spring of beautiful water is popularly known as Saint 
Farmin's Well. Who Saint Farmin was I wot not, but there 
was Firmin, a bishop of Usez in Languedoc, and to him no 
doubt this spring was dedicated by the Norman clergy, who 
would be settled at Bowes as chaplains at the castle, shortly after 
the Conquest, in honour of their saintly countryman. At 
Kirkby Stephen is a wonderfully copious spring, on the brink of 
the Eden, known by the name of Ladywell, which has within 
these few late years been appropriated to private uses. This 
semi-sacrilegious act was committed by Francis Birkbeck of 
Kirkby Stephen, who diverted the current of its waters down to 
his brewery to convert into ale, and that, too, without the 
slightest opposition on the part of the inhabitants of that wonder- 
fully improving little country town. The well has ever been 
looked upon as public property. Let justice be done. 

Wooden Trenchers. 

These primeval utensils were universally used in the servants' 

hall at till a very recent period ; and in fact were 

the usual platter for the tenants at the rent-day dinners, till 
about the year 1830, or later. They were not superseded by 
the fictile plate till after numerous objections had been raised by 
the more independent and higher class of tenantry durino- many 
previous years. Fruit puddings and roast beef (or rather 
perhaps contrariwise) sweetened rum sauce, and beef and 


mutton gravies, were all eaten off the same trencher. They now 
(1851) eat off pottery, and have their plates changed like other 
Christian folks. Salt and mustard spoons are, however, still 
unknown Note, in 1512, pewter plates and dishes were con- 
sidered a luxury only to be indulged in by the higher order of 
nobles. Of pewter dishes a noble specimen still exists at Streat- 
lam Castle, sufficiently large to contain the whole carcase of a 
sheep. In fact, it was used for that purpose on the occasion of 
the late Earl of Strathmore attaining his majority, and, as I 
have been told, has never been used since. 

A Taule of the Divisions of Land and Qualifications 
of Nobility. 

Ten families make a tything, 
Fourteen carucatos were one tything, 
Ten tythings make a hundred or wapentake, 
Ten plough lands make a fee, 
A twenty pound land make3 a knight's fee, 
Twenty acres make an ox-gang, 
Thirty acres make one yard of land, 
One hundred acres make one hide of hind, 
Five hides make one knight's foe, 
Forty hides make a barony, 
&c., &c. 


Tho objects or use of these works is unknown. In Berwick- 
shire there was said to have been a rampart and trench called 
lien-it's Dyke, running from east to west, now reduced to a 
fragment. To descend to modern days, the entrenchment which 
formerly surrounded the town of Newcastle-on-Tyne was called 
the King's Dyke. 



Game, Nursery, etc., Ehymes. 

1 . Draw buckets of water, 
For my lady's daughter ; 
My father's a king, 

And my mother's a queen, 
And I've got a little sister 
All dressed in green : 

One by bush, 

Two by bush. 
Pray little sister, creep under my bush. 

2. My left cheek, my right cheek [varia ear], 
My left cheek burns : 

If it be my enemy, ^ 

Turn cheek turn ; 

But if it be my true love, 

Burn cheek burn. 

Note. — Always begin the rhyme with the ear, or cheek that 
burns; i.e., if it be the right cheek or ear, begin the rhyme 
with it, or vice versa. 

3. Bound about, round about, applety pie, 
My daddy loves ale, and so do I. 
Up, mammy, up, and bring us a cup, 
And daddy and I will sup it all up. 

4. I had a grandmother, but now she's dead, 
And she learnt me to make cocklety-bread ; 
She up with her heels and down with her head, 
And this is the way to make cocklety bread. 

5. My grandy's seeke 
And like to dee, 
And I'll away make her 
Some cocklety-bread, 

Cocklety-bread ; 
And I'll away make her 
Some cocklety-brend. 


6. A man may care, and a man may spare, 
And be always bare 

If his wife be nought ! 
But a man may spend, and a man may lend, 
And always have a friend, 

If his wife be ought. 

Four Alls. 

1. Soldier . . I fight for all ! 

2 Parson ... I pray for all ! ! 

3. Countryman . I work for all ! ! ! 

4. Farmer . . I pay for all ! ! ! ! 

A Christmas Rhyme. 

At Woodhouse, near Sheffield, the children when they go 
about amongst their neighbours to beg their Christmas box, 
make use of tho following rhyming invocation : — 

I wish you a merry Christmas 

And a happy new year, 
A pocket full of money 

And a barrel full of beer, 
A horse and a gig 

And a good fat ]>ig 
To serve you all the year. 
If you please, will you give me a Christmas box ? 

Beans at Funerals. 

It was a custom with the heathens to distribute beans as a 
funeral dole, and hence its adoption by the Roman Catholic 
Church. The practice if not followed by some of the present 
generation was till a comparatively recent period, and remains 
chronicled in the following rhyme, which is still common : — 

God save your siul. 
Beans and all. 

38 the denham teacts. 

North Side op Churches. 

Still-born and unbaptised children, persons executed in 
accordance with the law, felo-de-se, and in fact all persons who 
laid violent hands on their own persons and brought themselves 
to an unnatural death, persons excommunicated either by eccle- 
siastical or civil law, and a variety of other offences deprived 
those so transgressing of the benefit of Christian interment — 
that is, there was neither service nor tolling of bell. They were 
also buried " within the night on the backside of the church." 
This antipathy to interment on the north also in a minor degree 
extended itself to the west end of the church. Witness the west 
end of the cemetery-garth at High Coniscliffe, near Darlington, 
where till almost within the period of living memory no inter- 
ments had taken place, the south and east portions alone being 

Such also, strange to say, was the case in the crowded grave- 
yard attached to All Saints in Newcastle, up to the year 1826, 
and probably may even still be the case. This circumstance I 
gather from a mass of curious and valuable notes on a speech of 
John Fenwick, Esq., of Newcastle, touching the propriety of 
obtaining " a new place of sepulture.'' Newcastle on-Tyne 
(2nd ed.), 1826, p. 22. Th? custom also prevails in Scotland. 

Popular Names for ce 

Ace of diamonds 

Nine of diamonds 

Six of hearts 


Queen of clubs . 

Four of spades . 

Knave of clubs . 

ktais Playing Cards. 

The Earl of Cork. 

The curse of Scotland. 

The grace card. 

A Bosworth mau. 

Queen Bess. 

Ned Stokes. 

A Sunderland fitter. 

The same card is called in Westmoreland " Curwen's card." 

Four of hearts . . Hob Collingwood. 


Seventh Son. 

On the birth of a seventh son, it is still observed that he 
must be a doctor. In the olden time a seventh son was 
believed to be able to cure the king's evil, as well as the kings 
themselves. The seventh son of a seventh son was blessed 
with divine attributes of a still more unlimited power. 

Honouring the Dead. 

The custom . still remains, though only to a very limited 
extent, of a person halting, although riding, for a moment, 
when in the act of passing a funeral procession, and taking off 
his hat. I admire this ancient usage, and would that it were 
universally practised by all professing Christians. [This is 
customary in the south of Scotland.] 

Arvel Dinners. 

Anciently it was only customary to have an arvel dinner 
(i.e., funeral feast) on the decease of persons who were possessed 
of valuable effects, when the friends and neighbours of the 
family of the deceased were invited to dine on the clay of 
interment. The custom is no doubt of great antiquity. At 
this solemn festival the corpse was publicly exposed. The dead 
are still so exposed in many eastern nations, and 'tis very pro- 
bable that we derive the custom from our Roman conquerors. 

A dinner of this class is expressly ordered under the will of 
Will'me Aslackbye, of Richmonde, gentlema', 3rd March, 

Others, again, in their wills order to the contrary, as did 
Phil. Hagthorpe, of Nettleworth, in this county, in his will, 
1610, charging his son as ho will answer him befoi'e God for 
it, esteeming it " a grete vanity to bestow a grete dinner and 


other charges vainly on men when they are gone." Surtees, 
ii. 204. On the contrary John Lively (vicar) of Kelloe, orders 
£30 to be expended on his funeral. He died 165 1. 

" At Bowes, Yorks., where ye Arvel Dinner still prevails, 
the chief and chosen dish at the well spread board is a rich veal 
pie, well stored with currants and raisins, and of sweet spices. 
The funeral pie was ate at an early period, and is described as 
being made of ' shrid meates.' These dinners were whiles 
set forth in the middest of the chancell of the church after 
the interment." * In some districts of England formerly no 
women went to men's funerals, nor men to the funerals of 
women, f 

" In northern customs duty was exprest 
To friends departed by their funeral feast."J 

The Cradle. 

In all sales, either under distraint for rent or common debt, 
it is an ancient and invariable custom to leave the cradle unsold, 
and the original owner is at liberty to repossess it. 

Leaping the Well. 

The singular and filthy custom of leaping the well on St. 
Mark's Day, at Alnwick, fell into almost total disuse this year, 
and it is almost more than probable that the year 1852 will see 
the usage entirely abandoned. Peace to its ashes ! 

An Irish Stone. 

A stone bearing the above name is still preserved by my 
respected friend Mr. Thomas Hedlcj*, of New Eoad, New- 
castle-upon-Tyne, son of Mr. Thomas Hedley, of Woolaw, in 

* Sharpe's Survey of London, bk. i. p. 259. 
f Misson's Travels in England, p. 91. 
\ King's Art of Cookery, p. 65. 


Redcsdale. These stones were at one time common in the 
dales of Northumberland, and were used as a charm to deter 
frogs, toads, and the whole of the serpent tribe from entering 
the dwelling-house of their possessor. In size the stone is 
three-and-a-quarter inches in diameter, of a cake form, is of 
a pale brown or dark drab colour, and about three-quarters of 
an inch thick in the middle where it is the thickest. It is 
imperforated, and therefore of a genus quite distinct from the 
Holy Stones, which are still so common, in the north especially.* 

God speed them weel. 

John Bowser, a quondam parish clerk of Coniscliffe, used on 
the first publication of a Banns of marriage to pronounce the 
pretty little benison of " God speed them weel ! " on the happy 
couple, who the moment before were " thrown over the church 
balks ; " which use, in conjunction with his broad local dialect, 
invariably caused a smile and a blush, not only on the glowing 
visage of the clerk himself, but also that of the whole adult 
portion of his hearers. 

Bowing towards the East. 

Many straggling instances remain, not only of ancient people, 
but also their offspring, bending the body towards the cast in 
adoration, ere they enter their pew or stall , and no doubt in 
very many instances without knowing either the meaning or 
origin of the custom. 

* Recently this stone was sent to me to examine. It is a flattish, 
smooth, honey-coloureil quartzose sub-circular stone, apparently from 
river gravel. It had been oiled to keep it shining. It has now been 
presented to the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries, Newcastle- 
upon-Tyne. Mr. Thomas Hcdlcy, the original holder, was usually 
known as " The Liltle King of Woolaw." — Beminiscences of Samuel 
Donkin, pp. 13, 78-9— J. H. 



The belief of our credulous ancestry in a female river demon 
is still early implanted in the mind of childhood on the banks of 
the Tees. Peg-Powler is the evil goddess of the Tees ; and 
many are the tales still told at Piersebridge, of her dragging 
naughty children into its deep waters when playing, despite the 
orders and threats of their parents, on its banks — especially on 
the Sabbath-day. And the writer still perfectly recollects being 
dreadfully alarmed in the days of his childhood lest, more 
particularly when he chanced to be alone on the margin of 
those waters, she should issue from the stream and snatch him 
into her watery chambers. 

Sir Walter Scott in the Lay of the Last Minstrel, relates a 
story of the spirit of the Tweed compelling the lady of the 
Baron of Drummelzier to submit to his embraces ; so that on 
the return of her lawful lord from the Holy Land he found his 
fair lady nursing a healthy boy, whose age did not correspond 
to the period of his departure. The lady, however, was 
believed, and the child, to whom the name of Tweedie was 
given, afterwards became Baron of Drummelzier and the chief 
of a powerful clan.* 

The foam or froth which is occasionally seen floating on this 
river in large masses is called Peg Powler's Suds, and the finer 
and less sponge- like froth is known by that of Peg Powler's 

* "According to a favourite mythic story, the first of theTweedies 
was the child of a species of water-spirit or genius of the Tweed, and 
hence the name. Records show that the earlier members of the family 
were designated from their lands on the Tweed ; as, for example, 
'John of Tuedie.'" — History of Peeblesshire, by William Chambers, p. 
422, note.— J. H. 


Mr. Keigbtley (a high authority on these matters), says that 
the Thames, Avon, and a few other English rivers which he does 
not name, seem never to have been the abode of a neck or kelpy. 

Wedding Custom. 

The custom of giving a ribbon to be run for is still extensively 
practised at weddings in the rural districts of the southern 
portion of the Bishopric. 

Christening Custom. 

A few families still adopt the practice of taking a slice of the 
Christening cake along with them, when taking the child to be 
received and engrafted into the congregation and body of Christ's 
Church, and making an offering of it to the first person they 
meet. Should this bo a man they say the next child born in the 
village will be a male, if a woman, it will be a female ! 

Holy or Lucky Stores. 

These stones, also called hag, (? witch), adder or snake- 
stones, and by the Scots fairy-cups, are occasionally seen 
suspended to the tester of a bedhead to prevent the nightmare. 
They are also placed over the backs of cows or other beasts as 
an efficacious remedy and preventive of the malady called hoose 
or huse ; that is, difficulty of breathing. These stones may be 
considered holy or sacred in a twofold sense ; first, because they 
have a hole through them ; and secondly, because like holy- 
water, they are equally beneficial in keeping all sort?, kinds 
and descriptions of evil spirits at a safe distance. 

Note. — These stones to be at all efficacious must be holed 
naturally. One hung over the head of a horse will prevent 
its sweating in tho stable. (See the oewn anguinum of the 


Gauls described by Pliny, iVafc Hist 1. xxix., ciii.) The name 
is also applied to "celts" (i.e., stone-weapons). 

Tansy Pudding. 

This piece of olden cookery is yet to be occasionally met with 
in Northumberland and the County Palatine. The late Mr. 
Church, the house surgeon of Newcastle Infirmary, was parti- 
cularly fond of tansy puddings, and his cook was, I understand, 
an excellent hand at preparing them. 

Old Rothbuky. 

In the four northern counties we meet with the following 
names and places to which the word old is attached. In Nor- 
thumberland we have Old Town, Old Hepple, Old Learmouth, 
Old Bewick, Old Yeavering, Old Middleton, Old Heaton, Old 
Lyham, Old Felton, Old Helscy, Old Ridley, Old Rothbury. 
In Cumberland, Old Malbray, Old Scales, Old Carlisle, Old 
Park, Old Town, Old Wall, Old Penrith. In Westmoreland, 
Old Hutton, Old Town, Old Appleby. In Durhamshire, Old 
Hall, Old Park, Old Acres, Old Durham. 

Fish and Ring. 

The town of Pickering is said to have been built by King Peri- 
durus, about 270 years before the birth of Christ, and to have 
derived its name from the circumstance of that prince losing a 
ring when washing himself in ye River Costa, which ring was 
afterwards found in the belly of a pike. Hence Pike-ring, 
now Pickering. 

A fish and ring story is also attached to the ancient and 
knightly family of Anderson, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which is. 
said to have happened about the year 1559. This ring, I believe 
is still preserved by tho family. There is also a singular York- 
shire legend of this class, in which a knight of the name of 


Tempest acts his part most cruelly. This latter story has not 
only given origin to a penny Chap Book, still highly popular, 
but also to a very excellent ballad, entitled, " The Yorkshire 
Garland, or the Cruel Knight and the Fortunate Farmer's 
Daughter. In three Parts, &c. &c." 8pp., containing 60 
verses, a printed copy of which is in the writer's possession. 

Thunder Stone. 

The quartz pebble, which is so common in the beds of rivers 
and also in tillage fields, is popularly known by the name of 
" thunder," or rather " thunner staane," and is believed to have 
dropped from the clouds during a thunder storm. 

Crossing the Witches Out. 

This useful and necessary ceremony is performed by all good 
housekeepers the moment they lay the leaven-trough, contain- 
ing the batch of dough, down upon the hearthstone to rise 
previous to baking. The process is simple, and is performed by 
making the sign of the cross thereon with the forefinger of the 
right hand ; and this act not only prevents' the dough from 
sticking to the pasteboard, but also from falling, as it is termed, 
both before and after putting into the oven. It also prevents 
witches exercising any of their devilish arts in connection 
therewith. My housekeeper performs this duty as regularly as 
the baking day comes. 

Bachelors and Old Maids. 

A man may not legally be termed an old bachelor until he 
hath attained the age of fifty years, three months, and three 
days ; but as regards the precise period at which a lady becomes 
an old maid it is undecided, both by ancients and moderns. 
Youth of heart miiy exist for a hundred years, and even 

46 the denham tracts. 

John "Wycltffe. 

At Lutterworth, Leicestershire, they have a tradition that 
since the bones of Wycliffe were burnt, and thrown into the 
Swift, the river has never overflowed its banks. 

Button Rhyme. Westmoreland. 

A tinkler, a tailor, 
A soldier, or a sailor, 
A rich man, a poor man, 
A priest, or a parson, 
A ploughman, or a thief. 

Bows and Arrows. 

In a survey of Carlisle Castle, in the reign of Queen Eliza- 
beth, there was found in one of the rooms twelve bows of yew, 
and seventy of elm, all unfit for service. Pretty strong proof of 
their not being much needed. The customary number of arrows 
contained in a quiver to the battlefield was twenty-four, " trussed 
in a thrumme." The best arrows were made of asp ; but ash, 
oak, and birch were also used. The arrow for warfare was 
thirty-two inches in length, with a sharp unbarbed iron head of 
four inches or thereabouts. The length of the English border 
bow was generally five feet eight inches, with a bend of about 
nine inches. The bowstring was of plaited or twisted silk or 
hemp, but where the notches for the arrow were placed, they 
were made round. Bows were made of elm, witch hazel or 
ash, but yew was the favourite wood. The planting of yew in 
ground appropriated to interments, doubtless arose from the fact 
of its nature being so prejudicial and poisonous to horned cattle. 
In the reign of Edward III., bows of laburnum * were in use. 

Also called nwburne and awbume saugh. 


These, however, were probably imported, as I don't find that 
tree was then introduced into England. Ascham saith the 
Scots hath a proverb that " Every English archer carried under 
his belt twenty-four Scots," which evidently alludes to the 
above number of unerring shafts. The range of a good bow was 
from three to four hundred yards, and, at a moderate distance 
an arrow would pass through an inch board. Six arrows might 
bo shot in the time required for the loading of a musket. 

About the year 1417, the king, Henry IV., ordered his 
<l sherives " of many counties to pluck from every goose six 
wing feathers for the purpose of improving arrows. Hall and 
Lloyd's Cyclopcedia, " Archery." Those of a bird of three years 
old were to be preferred, and that the feathers may drop off 
themselves when ripe. One of the three feathers in each arrow 
was grey to regulate the placing. 

To rain Swords and Pistols. 

The above, and also to rain sticks and stones, dogs and cats, 
awd wives and pipe stoppers, grey meears and fiddlers,*&c.,&c, 
are common similes when speaking of an extremely heavy fall 
of rain in the north of England. I have somewhere an account 
of a shower of flesh and blood, but cannot at this moment lay 
my hands on it. 

During a heavy rain in India the natives say : — " It pours 
down monkeys with their mouths open." 

* It rains dogs and cats, and little pitchforks. 
It rains helter skelter. 
It rains dogs and awde wives by dozens. 
It rains dogs and cats, and aw'll lap myscll int' skins. 




There is a superstition in the north of England, that blankets 
or petticoats formed of a material made from fallen wool, are 
very apt to have lice,* and by my fay I do think there may be 
truth in the observation, especially if worn by dirty folks, and 
seldom or never washed. 

It is a pretty generally diffused article of belief that the dust 
of a fuzzy ball cast in the eyes will cause blindness (hence in 
Scotland called " blind man's bellowses.") 

Soon teeth soon toes. This means that if your baby's teeth 
begin to sprout early, you will soon have toes, i.e., another 

4. The ceasing to flow of the celebrated Yorkshire springs, 
known by the name of the Nipseys or Gripseys, for an unusual 
length of time, is said to foretell dearth of corn, and scarcity of 

5. The egg given on a child's first visit should be preserved ; 
it betokeneth good fortune to the future man. 

6. Red garters are considered by certain ladies an effectual 
charm against the " rheumatiz." But I believe to act properly, 
i.e., effectually, they should be stolen. 

7. Fill the cavities of extracted teeth with salt, and burn 
in the fire saying the while : — 

Fire, fire, burn baan, 

God send me my tuthe agaan. 

8. A child should not be suffered to look in a glass before it 
is twelve months old. 

* ["A lupis occisarum ovinm polios pediculos procreunt." — 
Aristotle, cited in Joli. Johnstcmi Thaumatographia NaturaUs, p. 319, 
Amsterdam, 1661 ; Pliny, Hist. Xat., lxi. c. 33.— J. H.] 


9. To rock an empty cradle is considered ominous of a 
coming occupant. 

10. Many look upon it as a wicked piece of presumption on 
the part of parents to endeavour to perpetuate a favourite 
baptismal name, when death has snatched away its first bearer, 
and should the second, third, or fourth of the name survive (and 
it is a common observation that such is rarely the case) he is 
sure to prove a " graceless prodigal." Apropos, I have a not 
far distant relative who is the third representative of his name 
in his parent's family whose opportunities of doing well have 
been many, yet being " a bit of a graceless" the fellow never 
would try. He is still living, and a truthful monument of the 
impropriety, folly, and impiety of his parent's wickedness in 
thus tempting God ! ! ! [Himself?]. 

11. If the first person a funeral procession meets on taking a 
corpse to the church for interment is a male, a female is sure to 
be the next who dies in the village or district ; if a female, then 
it will be a male. 

12. The vulgar superstition which is common to all the people 
of a Germanic origin, of the corpse of a murdered person bleeding 
on being touched by the murderer is still maintained. 

13. If the flesh and joints of a corpse retain their softness and 
pliability, it portends, it is said, another death, if not in the 
household at least in the same family, in quick time. 

Brimstone Pan. 

In the days of flint, steel, and brimstone matches, it was the 
invariable custom, and no doubt an ancient one, to enfold the 
bowl portion of the brimstone pan after using in paper, and so 
hang it away till next wanted. Whence the origin of this 
i! sago ? 



Charm for Foul in the Foot. 

Horned cattle are subject to a filthy disease in their feet, 
called tbul ; the popular remedy for which is a sort of charm, 
to wit, notice upon what portion of turf the beast treads with 
its diseased foot, and scoop it up with a spade or large knife, 
around which tie a piece of cord and suspend it in the open air ; 
and as the said turf wastes away by exposure to the weather, 
the animal's foot will recover from the effects of the foul. 
Many still use no other remedy, looking upon it as an infallible 

Church Use. 

The old though now, 1856, superannuated clerk of Manfield 
Church, Yorks, at the conclusion of the Gospel used to respond, 
Thanks be to God for His Holy Word. 

Need Fire. 

The father of the writer, who died 1843, in his 79th year, 
had a perfect remembrance of a great number of persons, be- 
longing to the upper and middle classes of his native parish of 
Bowes, assembling on the banks of the river Greta to work for 
need fire. A disease among cattle, called the murrain, then 
prevailed to a very great extent through that district of York- 
shire. The cattle were made to pass through the smoke raised 
by this miraculous fire, and their cure was looked upon as 
certain, and to neglect doing so was looked upon as wicked. 

This fire was produced by the violent and continued friction 
of two dry pieces of wood until such time as it was thereby 

"To work as though one was working for need fire" is a 
common proverb in the North of England. 


River Ouse. 

It is said that the River Ouse has on two occasions divided 
and opened a dry passage of three miles in extent, first in the 
year 1399, before the Civil Wars, and again in the year 1648, 
before the reign of King Charles. 

Wedding Omen. 

It is looked upon as decidedly unlucky for a bridal party to 
be making their vows before the altar of Hymen during the 
striking of the church clock. It portends the death of the bride 
or bridegroom before the expiration of the year. 


The primitive use of employing taylors in the making of 
ladies' wearing apparel has only fallen into entire desuetude 
within the last sixty j'ears. 

Nobody Coming to Marry Me. — (Printed Set.) 

Last night the dogs did bark, 

I went to the gate to see, 
When ev'ry lassie had her spark, 

But nobody comes to me. 
And it's oh, dear ! what will become of me ! 

Oh, dear ! what shall I do ? 
Nobody coming to marry me, 

Nobody coming to woo. 

My father's a hedger and ditcher, 

My mother docs nothing but spin, 
And 1 n pretty young girl, 

Hut the money comes slowly in. 

And it's oh, dear ! &c. 


They say I am beauteous and fair. 
They say I am scornful and proud ; 

Alas ! I must now despair, 
For ah ! I am grown very old. 

And it's oh, dear ! &c. 

And now I must die an old maid, 

Oh, dear ! how shocking the thought ! 

And all my beauty must fade, 
But I'm sure it's not my fault. 

And it's oh, dear ! &c. 

From The Lyre, published at Edinburgh, about 1825. 


A Lamentable Dittie ; or, Juvenile Funeral Hymn. 

What say you to the following Lament for the Dead ? I 
heard it sung (3rd Aug., 1849) in not very doleful measure by 
more than half a dozen bairns ; and was so much taken with 
the beauty of the composition that I was induced to implant it 
on the tablet of my memory till I found time to write it down 
in a book. I must premise that the children were playing the 
ceremonies attendant on a funeral, and the eldest of the little 
group, who could not be more than eight years of age, gave it 
in right clerk-like style, time by time, as follows : 

Poor Johnny's deed that nice young man, 

That nice young man, 

That nice young man, 

"We'se nivver see him more ; 
He used to wear a fustian coat, 

A fustian coat, 

A fustian coat, 

That buttoned up before ! 

It is scarcely necessary to give the name of the tune, as the 


rhymes of this somewhat curious threnodie, intuitively set them- 
selves to their own right proper tune. 

Nursery Kiiymes. 

1. Brenky my nutty-cock,* 
Brenk him away ; 
My nutty-cock's nivver 
Been brenk'd to-day : 
What wi' carding and spinning on t' wheel, 
We've nivver had time to brenk nutty-cock weel : 
But let to-morrow come ivver so snne, 
My nutty-cock it sail be brenk'd by mine. 

Com. to J. 0. Halliwell, Esq. 

2. Bonny lass, canny lass, will ta be mine ? 

Thou'se neither wesh dishes, nor sarra the swine ; 
Tlum sail sit on a cushion, and sew up a seam, 
And thou sail cat strawberries, sugar, and cream. 

Com. to J. 0. Halliwell, Esq. 

3. Black and white i3 my delight, 
And green and yellow's bonny, 
I woud'nt part with mi' sweetheart, 
For all my father's money. 

4. I'll away yhame. 
And tell my dyame, 

That all my geese, 
Are ghane, but yhan ; 

And its a steg, 

And its lost a leg, 
And it'll be ghane, 
By I get yhame. 

Nuttv-cock is an olden term of endearment. 


5. Rosemary green and lavender blue, 

Thyme and sweet marjoram, hyssop and run. 

6. If! If! If! 

If I had gold in goupins, 

If I had money in store/ 
If I had gold in goupins, 

My laddie should work no more. 
He should have a maid to wait upon him, 

Another to curl his hair ; 
He should have a man to buckle his shoe, 

And then he should work na mair. 

7. On Royal Oak Day. 

The twenty-ninth of May 
Is Royal Oak Day ; 
If you winnot give us a holiday, 
We'll all run away. 

A rather superior rhyme of the school-boy class. 

Burying Cakes, Westmoreland. 

The primeval custom of presenting each relative and friend of 
the deceased when they attend the corpse-house on the day of 
interment with an arvel cake, still, everything but universally, 
prevails in many towns and villages in Westmoreland. At 
Kirkby Stephen these offerings are of no trifling number at one 
individual funeral, nor yet of trifling individual dimensions. 
These cakes, which should always be pocketed [this word must 
be received figuratively ; the fact is they are too large for the 
modern pocket of either sex, and the cake has in general to be 
tied up in the pocket napkin of its possessor] and taken home, 
are, I can assure your readers, of that magnitude that one of 


them would be considered quite enough to serve three or four 
" maydenly laydies " at a tea-drinking. I have on various 
occasions seen these cakes but never tasted them ; but those who 
have inform me that the popular colloquial name of burying 
cake is a very correct one ; for that, owing to some peculiar 
spice which is commixt with the flour, fruit, &c, they always, 
both in smell and taste, remind them of a clay-cold corpse and 
an oaken coffln. Occasionally as many as 100 are given at a 
funeral, and the cost varies from 3d. to 4d. each cake. 

' May Kittens. 

" Never keep a May kitten." Old saying. 

Kittens born in May are even still proverbially spoken of and 
looked upon as bad mousers. I only within the present year 
heard a female say that "she wad nivver mair keep a May 
kitten as lang as she lived, for they were just good for naught at 
all ! " [They are unlucky to keep ; and besides, they suck the 
breath of very young infants : From Long Benton, Newcastle.] 

Death Omen. Howling of Doas. 

The howling of dogs, cither by night or day, is siill con- 
sidered to portend death, either in the house nearest to which 
they howl, or to some of their kith or kindred. 

Man is the Moon. 

Our ancestors believed that this imaginary personage was 
a veritable man, of flesh, blood, and bones, such as we are, 
who, by way of example to all succeeding generations, was 
taken up into the air donned in his working clothes, along with 
his fork of tree, on the prongs of which he carried a bundle of 
sticks (thorns), which he had stolen, across his right shoulder, 


a horn Ian thorn in his left hand, and also his little dog (whose 
name I forget), and the whole of them stuck against the face 
of the moon, and all for transgressing the fourth command in 
the Decalogue. The following stanza (the third) of an old 
" three man's song," adds a valuable item to the traditions in 
connection with this relic of olden mythology. The name of 
the song is " Martin said to his Man " : — 

1 see a man in the moone, 

Fie ! man, Fie ! 
I see a man in the moone, 

Who's the Foole now ? 
I see a man in the moone, 
Clouting of St. Peter's shoone ; 
Thou hast well drunken man ; 

Who's the Foole now ? 

Deuteromelia, or the second part of 
Mustek's Melodies, 4to, 1609. 

" As for the forme of those spots, some of the vulgar fhinke 
they represent a man, and the poets guesse 'tis the boy 
Endymion, whose company shee loves so well that she carries 
him with her. Others will have it onely to be the face of a 
man as the moone is usually pictured ; but Albertus thinkes 
rather that it represents a lyon, with his taile towards the east 
and his head to the west, and some others (Eusebius Nieremb. 
Hist. Nat., lib. viii. cxv.) have thought it to be very much 
like a fox, and certainly 'tis as much like a lyon as that in the 
Zodiacke, or as Ursa Major is like a beare." — Bishop Wilkin's 
Discovery of a New World, 3rd edit. Lond. 1640, p. 100. 

This myth is thought to be the most ancient of all our still 
popular superstitions. Many, very many, there are who can 
see all these figures in the moon ; but, truth to tell, I never 
could. All that my weak vision has been able to discover in 
the moon amounts to no more than two eyes, a nose, and a 


mouth, just as we see " ye ould laydie " depictured in the 
almanacks of Francis Moore, physician, astrologer, and school- 
master. Others who are totally lacking of faith look upon both 
matters as mere moonshine. Be it as it may, we have, how- 
ever, an old, very old, proverb, which holds out timely warning 
to the present generation of unbelievers, to wit : c> Have a care 
lest the churl fall out o' the moon." 

The origin of this myth will be found in Numbers c. xv., 32, 
et set]. Alexander Necham, a writer of the twelfth century, 
notices the popular belief in this fable. See Iialliwcll's Popular and Nursery Tales, p. 229. 

Palm Crosses. 

These beautiful and interesting relics of ancient days and 
forgotten ceremonies are still often to be seen in the hands of 
children in the North of England on Palm Sunday. The 
remaining portion of the year they hang upon a nail against 
the whitewashed wall of mayhap the poor man's only room ; 
and being formed of gay colours artistically arranged in one, 
two, and occasionally three crosses, are no mean or despicable 
appendage. In the triumphant days of popery they were 
considered indispensable in the hands of old and young, rich 
and poor. Hence the proverb, " He that hath not a palm in 
his hands on Palm Sunday must have his hand cut off." 

Urchins, varia Hedgehogs. 

Another relic of the old world times in the Bishopric is that 
hedgehogs or urchins, as we call them, have still imputed to 
them the offence of sucking the milk of cows as they sleep. I 
have endeavoursd to dislodge the fable from the minds of several 
of the unlearned, but my endeavour to do so only tended to 
increase their olden faith. 

58 the denham teacts. 

Cbqbsing out the Rainbow. 

When a schoolboy I recollect that we were wont, on the 

appearance of a rainbow, to place a couple of straws or twigs 

on the ground in the form of a + , in order to dispel the sign 

in the heavens, or, as we termed it, to " cross out the rainbow." 

Lucky Bohe. 

This relic of another olden superstition is now seldom seen, 
and still more seldom used, at least in the Xorth. This bone, 
which was worn as an amulet round the neck to ensure good 
luck, and protect the wearer from fairies, witches, " and all 
sike like uncanny folk," was taken from the head of a sheep. 
Its form was that of T [Tau or cross], a sacred symbol not only 
in Christian, but also in Druidical monuments, and ancient and 
modern heraldry. 

Lyke Wake. 

The custom of waking the corpse still exists in a few families, 
but the use is now far from general. Every ancient usage in 
connection therewith has vanished in my resident locality ; and 
I am glad to observe that I have never heard of a single instance 
of intoxication where practised. 

Excessive Grief for the Dead. 

An old woman still- living (1854) in Piersebridge. who 
mourned with inordinate grief for a length of time the loss of 
a favourite daughter, assorts that she was visited by the spirit 
of her departed child, and earnestly exhorted not to disturb 
her peaceful repose by unnecessary lamentations and repinings 
at the will of God ; and from that time she never grieved more. 


Events of this kind were common a century ago. So the "Wife 
of Usher's Well." 

[This popular belief receives an illustration from Proudlock's 
poems (a local Northumbrian writer, who died in early life, in 
1826). In a tragic poem, entitled " Leah's Daughter," Dinah 
so grieves for the loss of Sb.ecb.em, that his ghost appears to 
warn her that her lamentations disturbed him in the grave. 

" Glutsi. Dinali ! am I thus rewarded 

For the love unfeigned I bore ? 

Is thy lover's shade regarded ? 

Dinali, then, lament no more ; 

With thy oft-repeated ' woes ' 

Thou hast broken my repose. 

Dry thy tears then ; cease thy wailing — 

Woful wander not from home, 

Seeing all are unavailing — 

They have brought me from the tomb ; 

But 'tis to bid thee cease : 

Be at peace — and I'm at peace." — p. 112.] 

" Leetening afore Death." 

A dying person will occasionally not only be restored to all 
sense of memory and speech, show great vigour and alacrity, 
but will also arise from his bed and hold conversation with his 
family as if in perfect health. Ibis is termed " a lightening 
before death." 

" How oft when men are at the point of death, 
Have they been merry ? whirl i their keepers call 
A lightning before death." 

Eomso and Juliet, act v., so. 3. 

Touching the Dead. 
Doubtless this custom is of corresponding quality with one 


previously noted on touching the body of a murdered person, 
and is equally to prove (though without the resting suspicion) 
that you are entirely guiltless of the death of the deceased, not 
in act alone, but also in prayer. This public exposure of the 
corpse was also to exculpate the heir and those entitled to the 
possessions of the deceased from fines and mulcts to the lord of 
the manor, and from all accusations of violence ; so that the 
whole company might avouch that the person died fairly and 
without suffering any personal injury. Formerly, too, it was 
done to prevent the unhouseled spirit troubling you either by 
night or day. But we moderns, having, in part at least, 
renounced our belief in ghosts, say that it is to prevent our 
dreaming of seeing the dead body. 

Bloody Stones. 

Of these stones tradition still points out several with blood- 
stained tales of robbery and murder of benighted pedlar, 
traveller, or neighbour connected with them throughout the 
North of England. These stones are believed to have absorbed 
a portion of the blood of the murdered one, and it said that 
nothing can possibly remove it hence. In many cases the 
ghost of the departed is said to keep mournful watch by night 
upon them, to the great annoyance of the innocent and best 
disposed portion of the folks living near it. This I have 
always considered a very bad trait indeed in the character of 
English hobgoblins. Geologists, however, account for the marks 
in stones of this class in a more natural waj% by asserting that 
they are natural ones, and in good sooth I give not only fall 
credit to the assertion, but beg leave to confirm it. 

Subterranean Passages. 
Traditionary passages, of which so many legendary stories are 


told, are obviously nothing more than the extensive sewers or 
vennels extending from the kitchens of the castle, mansions, and 
religious houses of olden time. 

The swineherd of Will. Peverell, an English baron, having 
lost a brood-sow, descended through a deep abyss in the middle of 
an ancient and ruinous castle, situated on the top of a hill called 
Bech, in search of it. Though a violent wind commonly issued 
from this pit, he found it calm within, and pursued his way till 
he arrived at a subterranean region, pleasant and cultivated, with 
reapers cutting down the corn, though the snow remained on 
the surface of the ground above. Among the corn he discovered 
his sow, and was permitted to ascend with her and the pigs 
which she had farrowed. Genase of Tilbury, p. 975. 

By one of these passages the English repossessed themselves 
of the castle of Wark after the surprise and butchery of its 
garrison by Will. Halliburton of Fast Castle, 1319, when, in 
return for the death of Robert Ogle* and his troops, the English 
butchered the whole of the Scots. 

A passage of this sort formerly extended from Anderson 
Place, Newcastle, in the direction of the Manors ; and coins of 
Edward III. were found in it. By this underground com- 
munication King Charles is said to have attempted to escape. 

An instance is also on record of an ancient fairyman making 
his complaint to Sir Godfrey MacCulloch, a Gallovidian knight, 
of a certain drain or common sewer, beneath Sir Godfrey's 
castle, which emptied itself directly into his chamber of dais. 
With courtesy the knight assured him of the speedy alteration 
of tho drain, which was done accordingly. For this act, the 
old man, many years after, preserved Sir Godfrey from the 
scaffold when the executioner was ready to strike the fatal blow. 

Ogle was not killed at all, see Forduu. 


Tradition and real fact place this event in the year 1697. See 
Brockett's Gloss, vol. ii. p. 166, 3rd ed. 

The earliest instance we have of an underground drain in 
connection with civil or military buildings occurs in the reign 
of Henry III., 1216.— Turner's Domestic Architecture. 

There are old wives' tales of subterranean passages which 
connect the totally destroyed village of old Richmond, not only 
with Cradock Hall, at Gainford, on the opposite bank of the 
Tees, but also with ClifFe Hall, fully three miles down the 

Money Digging. 
King John was so impressed with the idea that Corbridge 
had been a large and populous city destroyed by an earthquake 
or some sudden and terrible invasion, when the inhabitants 
would bo unable to remove their wealth, that he ordered his 
officers to make a diligent search for treasures which he 
supposed were buried beneath the ruins. Simonburn Castle 
" was pulled down to satisfy a violent curiosity the country 
people had for searching, like King John at Corbridge, and Nero 
at Carthage, for hidden treasure, where they succeeded no better 
th\n those two royal money hunters, who got nothing but 
rubbish for their pains." — Wallis, ii., 15. A singular dungeon 
tower, in Richmond Castle, Yorks, was cleaned out to a very 
great depth only a few years ago, with the same object in view 
and the same success. 

Old Horse Shoes. 

See Lit. Gaz., Dec, 1851. Brocketfs JS T orth. Words, ii., 60. 

To find a horse-shoe is considered lucky. And the said horse- 
shoe nailed heel upwards upon the door or threshhold of the byre, 
stable, or dwelling-house of the finder, hinders the power of 
witches. In daleish districts great numbers are still to be 
seen so attached. 

folklore of the north of england. 63 

Burial at Ceoss-Koads. 

John and Lancelot Younghusband committed suicide 10th 
November, 1818. "They" (the Younghusbands) "were two 
respectable and wealthy farmers just adjoining the town of 
Alnwick. The sensation must be imagined that pervaded the 
little town of Alnwick, when it was discovered that the brothers 
had committed suicide at the same time ; consequently must 
have consulted and agreed to each other's self murder, if not 
assisted in it. This was the great difficulty with the jury, or 
they would have returned the usual verdict of temporary 
insanity. I was from home at the time ; and in fact I heard of 
the dreadful event at Rothbury, and on my return I found the 
jury had returned a verdict of felo de se, and that I was called, 
upon the Coroner's warrant, along with my brother church- 
wardens and the constables of the parish, to inter the bodies in 
the public highway. I distinctly recollect that the coroner, 
Mr. T. A. Russell, told us the law did not require the burial to 
be at cross-roads. As we wished to spare the feelings of 
friends, and as a public footpath led through Alnwick church- 
yard, we thought we fulfilled the requirements of the law by 
interring the bodies along it, so as not to interfere with con- 
secrated ground — which was done by making the graves in a 
direction opposite to the usual method. There they would have 
remained had not the late Sir David W. Smith sent for the 
parish officers, and threatened them with a prosecution at the 
suit of the Crown, if the bodies were not interred according to 
law in a public road.* It was not till the evening that the 
parish officers resolved to disinter and re-bury the bodies of the 

* However much this command and threat might hurt the feelings 
of every relative and friend, still, as the law then stood, every dis- 
interested and light-minded person must justify Sir David and the 
other magistrates in the part they acted in the matter. 


unfortunate men, and this was carried out, though not exactly 
at midnight, nor were the graves made at cross-roads. The 
wish was to have the graves dug at the March between the 
Duke of Northumberland and Mr. Hewitson's estate at Heckley 
in a lane, called Hindly lane, leading from Heckley to Eglingham, 
where the Younghusbands farmed, and perhaps within a quarter 
of a mile from where the double suicidal act was committed, but 
the ground was so full of rocks, the gravediggers not being able 
speedily to accomplish their work, so that we gave directions 
for them to come further down the lane, which might be four 
or five hundred yards from the March, but not at a crossing ; 
there the graves were dug at the side of the road, not where 
carts and horses travelled. I do not think it was ten o'clock 
when we returned from the melancholy duty with most 
distressed minds and harassed feelings.* As the law was 
shortly afterwards altered so as to allow the bodies of suicides to 
be interred, in churchyards without ceremony, I really think 
that this painful circumstance had some influence on our 
legislators. Mr. William Davidson, chemist and druggist, of 
Alnwick, was foreman of the jury, and as he takes much 
interest in local events, and the history of the place, he will 
be able to supply further information upon this enquiry, 
which I feel incompetent to do." Private Correspondence, 

It is however said that the bodies did not rest long at the 
wayside, being removed under the cloud of night, and that they 
found a third final resting place in the graveyard of Alnwick 

Anciently a stake was driven through the body of a suicide, 
but in the above instance this act was dispensed with. 

* The burial was witnessed by a vast concourse of people from 
Alnwick and the surrounding neighbourhood. 


[" Go to Heckley Fence " may have originated from the 
circumstances above related.] 

Roman Burials. 
The Romans most generally interred north and south, and 
occasionally with the head to the south. Numerous double and 
occasionally treble interments are met with, in which the bodies, 
singular to say, are reversed ; vulgo, " heads and heels." Many 
instances of double interments have been met with at Pierse- 

Sundry Northern Proverbs. 

1. He's a ganger, like Willy Pigg's dick ass. 

2. A bumble kite a spider in't — a bad bargain. 

3. It's a hobbly road, as the man said when he fell over a cow. 

4. Rather better than common, like Nanny Hclmsey's pie. 

5. Changeable weather, quoth Molly Hogg, rain every day. 

6. As great a thief as Billy P — r, who stole the bolt off his own door. 

7. I said nought and I said nought, and still they took hold of my 

8. I'll pepper your rams. 

9. The old yow's the better tape. 

10. High-days and holidays and baan-fire neets. 

11. He sticks up his riggin {i.e., the backbone), like a puzzon'd 

12. To catch Peggy Wiggan. 

13. To use some of Michael Pickering's blacking, i.e., none at all. 

14. As throng as Throp's wife, when she hanged herself with the 

15. May Jemmy Johnson squeeze me. 

10. It's sure and sartain, as said Jonathan Martin. 

17. She's ready donn'd, like Willy Ho's (Hall's) dog. 

18. Like Isaac Ebdalc's stockings, they're no fit. 
111. " A little of both," as Harry Hodgson said. 

20. It's January, like David Pearse's gin. David should have said 
genuine but nut being, as it would seem, a learned man, he fell into 


66 the denham tracts. 

Worm in the Tail. 

This is a sort of imaginary disease wonderfully common in 
horned cattle, to cure which a portion of the end of the animal's 
tail is cut off in order to make it bleed; but the more general 
fashion is to make in it a perpendicular incision near to the end 
and to rub therein a composition of salt, soot, tar, turpentine, 
and garlick, tightly enveloping all with a rag and cord. 

Butchers as Jurymen. 

The common vulgar error of excluding a butcher from juries, 
especially in cases of blood, although it may be said to be 
exploded, is still strongly impressed upon the minds of the lower 
classes, at least so far as propriety goes. I believe that an 
ancient law, still standing on the statute book, actually for- 
bade it. 

Mayden Assize : White Gloves. 

It was formerly the custom to present the judge with a pair 
of white gloves when no criminals were condemned to be 
hanged. The use now is to make the offering when there are 
no prisoners for trial. A pair of gloves also, not many years 
ago, was the customary offering by a person claiming a reversal 
of outlawry. Amongst swordsmen, to send or cast the gauntlet, 
i.e., a glove of mail, was esteemed a challenge of defiance. 

To Bite the Glove or Nails. 

To bite the glove or finger nails in conversation, even with a 
friend, is still looked upon as ominous of passion or hatred. Sir 
Walter Scott has a note thereon. See Lay of the Last Minstrel, 
cant, vi., st. 7. Shakespeare also remarks it as a gesture of 


The Kissing Bush. 

At York and Newcastle-on-Tyne tliis ancient token of a 
mirthful and I hope innocent custom is still to be seen at 
Christmas. The bush is formed of mistletoe, evergreens, rib- 
bons, and oranges. May its presence continue to be witnessed, 
not only in the kitchens but also in the entrance hall for cen- 
turies untold. 

The Petting Stone. 

Marriages celebrated at the Church of Lindisfarne, in Holy 
Island, are said to be unfortunate if the bride, on making the 
essay, cannot step the length of it. This stone is supposed to be 
the pedestal of St. Cuthbert's Cross, anciently held in super- 
stitious veneration. [In some places the bride, after coming out 
of the church, was lifted over a stone, called " the petting 
stone," that she may never take the pet.] 

The Mosstrooper's Grave. 

" From the Lake of Grindon, in Northumberland, a small 
burn issues and flows about two miles in a westerly course, 
when it is suddenly lost in a fissure of its rocky passage in the 
limestone, popularly known as a Swallow-hole. Tradition states 
that a young mosstrooper, in attempting to rob a farmyard in 
the neighbourhood, was shot by one of the servants and brought 
to the lonely Swallow-hole and there buried. Upon this tradi- 
tion a ballad was founded, which I fear is now lost. I remem- 
ber it as very pretty. The grave is worthy of its lawless 
occupant." — Private Correspondence, 1849. 

Selling oneself to the Devil. 

" Tho idea of men and women thus disposing of themselves 

F 2 


for wealth and power, for a certain term of years, is not yet 
exploded, in Weardale. At the expiration of the period Satan 
appears in person, and not only claims the soul, but carries off 
the body also. It is supposed the victim can be saved by giving 
the fiend anything black when he appears to him^ as a black 
hen, black cat, dog, &c. So that it would seem his infernal 
majesty is either easily satisfied or easily gulled." — Private 

Charm foe Bewitched Cattle. 

An acquaintance of mine, in County Westmeria, had such a 
singular succession of ill luck among his cattle that his neigh- 
bours, as well as himself, came to the conclusion that they were 
bewitched by awde Sally Mackick, who lived at no great dis- 
tance from the farmstead. An eldern, well versed in these 
matters, recommended the owner to take the heart of a cow 
which had died that morning and stick it full of pins, and after- 
wards plunge it into the midst of a fire made up for the purpose 
at the dead hour of midnight. All made ready, the heart was 
dropt into the middle of a huge roaring fire in an awful silence 
and covered up, when (mirabile diclu) instantly the most awful 
knock came upon the window, where the work was going for- 
ward, that the good folks ever heard in their lives, and it was 
not, as may be supposed, to bid them hasten to their beds. In 
the morning not a relic of either heart or pins was to be met 
with . From that period their cattle got almost instantaneously 
well, and they lost no more for many long years. 

My story, however, ends not here. The supposed witch, after 
this, to make use of the language of my narrator, " dowed na 
mair, she dwined away, and did na mair good (evil ?), and 
nobbnt lived a few weeks, and she's now where the Lord 

folklore of the nokth of england. 69 

Battling Stones. 

These now unused relics of a former period are still numerous 
throughout the length and breadth of the land, and must remain 
so, unless they have the ill-luck to meet the fate of the noble 
Piersebridge specimen, which was blown to fragments by means 
of gunpowder, by a fellow in the place, a.d. 1826. They were 
generally found on the margin of a stream, with the upper sur- 
face inclining towards the water. These stones were used by 
thrifty housewives some thirty years ago, whereupon to beat, 
battle, or beetle their home-made linens or huckabacks, which 
even then pretty generally prevailed for domestic wear. The 
linen was thrown into the running stream and gradually drawn 
upon the stone, and there beat with a beetle or battling staff. 
The Piersebridge stone lay on the north side of Carlebury beck, 
ii yard or two below the present footbridge. Another stone of 
this class, but greatly deficient in magnitude, still exists on the 
Cliffe side of the Tees, with one side in the river. It is on the 
premises of the George and Dragon Inn, not far from the bridge. 
I have many times seen it used. It is a granite boulder, as was 
the other. 

Nursery Rhymes. 

A Supposition. 

As I suppose, and as I suppose, 

The barber shaved the Quaker, 
And as I suppose, he cut off his nose, 

And lap't it up in a paper. 

Running ok Leaping Rhymes. 

Bi'llasay. Bclhi~ay, what time o' tiny, 
One o'clock, two o'clock, three and away. 

Varia in second line, '• time to away." BcIIasay is evidently 


)i corruption of bell-horses. At Wooler, instead of "Bellasay" 
" coach-horses " is used. 

An auld Wife's End. 

Did ye iwer see an auld wife, 

An auld, auld, auld, wife ; 
Did ye ivver see an auld wife 

Hung ower a dyke to dry ? 
The day was het, the wife was fat, 

And she hegan to fry ; 
So there was an end o' the auld wife, 

Hung ower the dyke to dry ! 

A Mother's saying. 

My son is my son till he gets a wife, 

But my daughter's my daughter all the days of her life. 

Southernwood Ehtmes. 

1. Lads' Iotp, lasses' delight, 
If t' lads doesn't come 
The lasses '11 flite. 

2. Lads' love is lasses' delight, 
And if the lads don't love 
Lasses will flite [i.e. scold.] 

Ash-Leaf Charms. 

1 . The even ash-leaf in my left hand, 

The first man I meet shall be my husband. 

2. The even ash-leaf in my glove, 

The first I meet shall be my true love. 


3. The even ash-leaf in my breast, 

The first man I meet is who I love best. 

4. The even ash-leaf in my hand, 
The first I meet shall be my man. 

5. Even ash ! Even ash ! I pluck thee, 
This night my true love for to see ; 
Neither in his rick, nor in his rear, 

But in the clothes he does every day wear. 

G. An even ash, or four-leaved clover, 

You'll see your true love before the day's over. 

7. The even ash-leaf in my bosom, 

The first T meet shall be my husband. 

8. Find odd-leaved ash, and even-leafed clover, 
And you'll see your true love afore the day's over. 

9. Even ash, I do thee pluck, 
Hoping for to have good luck ; 

But if no good luck I get from thee, 
I wish I'd left thee on the tree. 

Docken or Nettle Rhymes. 

1. Docken in and nettle out 
Like an awde wife's dishclout. 

2. Out nettle, in dock, 

Dock shall have a new smock ;" 
But nettle shan't ha' nothin'. 

3. In dock, out nettle sting 
Nettle sting'd me. 

If thou doesn't cure me 
I'll kill thee ! 

[Tho rhymes under these two headings have been derived 
from several sources.] 


Folks never catch cold at Chdrch. 

This is a saying very common in the mouths of old people, 
and is no doubt often an inducement to many to leave their own 
comfortable homes on a cold, comfortless, (splishy-splashy) * 
Sabbath morning, and travel a couple of miles or more to attend 
divine service in one of our doubly-damp country churches, 
which has turned green internally, not alone from the effects of 
antiquity, but still more so from the exclusion of a free circula- 
tion of air, from the afternoon of the previous Sabbath ; where 
it is too certain numbers have caught colds, which ere long 
have hurried them prematurely to a grave not much more cold 
or damp than the church. 

Bowed oh Crooked Sixpence. 

A crooked sixpence worn continuously in the left side pocket 
is looked upon as indicative of good luck to the wearer. I 
know a lady whom I have seen turn not less than half a dozen 
out of her purse at one time. 

" Bowed money appears anciently to have been sent as a 
token of love and affection from one relation to another.''' — 

Gun-firing Superstition. 

In the sailors' creed the following article occurs, viz.: — 
That if a gun is fired over a dead body, lying at the bottom of 
the sea, the concussion will burst the gall bladder, and, mermaid 
like, it will ascend to the surface head foremost. 

The belief that on the bursting of the gall bladder a dead 
creature, be it fish, animal, or human, will rise to the surface 
of the water, is not peculiar to civilized life ; it is also asserted 
by the Indians of America. 

* So pronounced in tho north. 


Black Cats and Lovers. 

In a house where a black cat is kept the spinster portion of 
its population will never lack plenty of sweethearts. 

N.B. — This piece of folk-lore I gleaned from a young lady, 
who spoke, as she herself told me, not from hearsay information, 
but practical experience. 


1 . Whenever the cat of the house is black, 
The lasses of lovers will have no lack. 

2. Kiss the black cat, an' that'll make ye fat ; 
Kiss yn the white one and that'll make ye lean. 

[It ought to be said that this is a childish off-take of one 
who is constantly inquiring " What?" and not a piece of folk- 
lore implying belief. — J. H.] 

Corpse Usages. 

The old use of covering looking-glasses with a white linen 
cloth in the room wherein a corpse lies still generally prevails. 
I have thought that this custom was to prevent the image of 
the dead being reflected in the glass. 

A pewter plate and a handful of salt placed upon the body 
of the corpse is now but rarely seen. About Bowes a sod 
(turf) occasionally, however, assumes the duty and place of 
the salt. The folks say it ia done to prevent the formation of 
gases of the body. A bowl of water is usually placed beneath 
tho bed. 

I myself have seen a " stranger in blood " lean over a corpse 
just previous to removal, and in silence repeat a short prayer. 
Of the nature of the prayer I am ignorant. 

74 the denham tracts. 

Sleek or Calendering Stones. 
These domestic utensils of olden time are now wholly out of 
use. Their form has been aptly described as that of a large 
mushroom reversed, the stalk forming the handle. One, penes 
me, is formed of common green or bottle glass, in diameter 
4^ inches, and in height 6£ inches. They are now very 

Cats and Corpses. 

It is a common remark that a cat will not settle in a house 
with an unburied corpse. I know not how far the truth of this 
saw may extend ; but this I do know, that on the decease of 
the writer's maternal parent, the house cat left the dwelling 
and took to the garden, where, by scratching the earth, she 
made herself a kind of lair and extended herself therein, like 
a hare in her form, with her nose partially covered with loose 
soil. This I noticed on many occasions during the period the 
body was uninterred. 


The last set of bell-horses either seen or heard in the North 
of England were kept by the late Charles Michell, Esq., (of 
eccentric memory), of Forest Hall, Richmond. Although it 
must now be more than 40 years since I last saw those horses, 
in their handsome trappings, pass through Piersebridge, I can 
nevertheless fancy I still hear the music of their bells tingling 
in my ears. These belis were suspended on a wooden frame 
work, which frame was covered with a parti-coloured worsted 

The Rev. Mr. Darnell, rector of Stanhope, has in his pos- 
session a bell of this sort, which is considered a great curiosity. 


It used formerly to be suspended at the neck of the leading 
horse (proverbially known as the bell-horse) of the trains by 
which the salters of olden time conveyed their merchandise over 
the moors of that district. It is very massive, and has a fine 
harmonious tone. 


It is still a generally received opinion, that one of these 
animals kept about an inn or farmstead is not only conducive 
to the health of the other domestic animals, but also brings 
good luck to the owner. 

On Children. 

It is believed that a child in its first month has a presentiment 
or foresight of everything that has to befall it through life. If 
much given to crying, its future life will be one of sorrow, and 
per contra. Also that if a child's "tooths down-bank" (i.e., 
has its first teeth in the upper jaw), it won't live long. 

Northern Proverbs. 

1. There's great (v. rare, brave) doings in the North when they 
Steele (bar) their doors \vi' tayleurs. 

2. There's great stirring in the North when old wives (? witches) 
ride scout. 

3. Three great evils come out of the North— a cold wind, a cunning 
knave, and shrinking cloth. 

Cope, a' cope, a bargain, 

Never cope again : 

Two cross sticks 

And a broker, bane (bone). 

The above rhymes (which are headed Legal Oral Contract) 
are chanted by two children with the little fingers of their right 
right hands hooked together. The use prevails at Scarborough, 


and is evidently a .juvenile contract between the parties, that 
the coping (exchange) of properties which has just taken place 
shall never be broken by either of them in all future time. It 
is clearly, I think, of high antiquity. 

[Eing tang the Bottle Bell, A' the leers gangs to Hell.] 
[Bargain be'd till ye be deed, A bunder' pound if ye rue again.] 

Ber. vars. 


Up 'with the rump, 
And down with the stump, 
And away with the Presbytereers. 

This triplet is sung or said at Driffield in the East Riding of 
Yorkshire, on the 29th of May ; and refers us back to the un- 
happy era of the first Charles ; Oliver Cromwell ; the Rump 
Parliament; the Roundheads and Cavaliers; and the Inde- 
pendents and Presbyterians. 

These rhymes I find were used as a political " toasting 
health " by certain Jacobites. They are noticed in Mr. James 
Ray's History of the Rebellion of '45-6. York, 1749. 

Ghosts never appear on Christmas Eve ! 

* * * * 

" Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes 
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated, 
The bird of dawning singeth all night long : 
And then they say no spirit dares stir abroad ; 
The nights are wholesome ; then no planet strikes, 
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, 
So hallowed and so gracious is the time." 


" So have I heard and do in part believe it." 

* # # # 



So says the immortal Shakespeare ; and the truth thereof 
few now-a-days, I hope, will call in question. Grose observes, 
too, that those born on Christmas Day cannot see spirits ; which 
is another incontrovertible fact. What a happiness this must 
have been seventy or eighty years ago and upwards, to those 
chosen few who had the good luck to be born on the eve of this 
festival of all festivals ; when the whole earth was so overrun 
with ghosts, boggles (1), bloody-bones, spirits, demons, ignis 
fatui, brownies (2), bugbears, black dogs, spectres, shellycoats, 
scarecrows, witches, wizards, barguests (3), Robin-Goodfellows 
(4), hags (5), night-bats, scrags, breaknecks, fantasms, hob- 
goblins, hobhoulards, boggyboes, dobbies (6), hob-thrusts (7), 
fetches (8), kelpies, warlocks, mock-beggars (9), mum-pokers, 
Jemmy-burties, urchins, satyrs, pans, fauns, sirens, tritons, 
centaurs, calcars, nymphs, imps, incubusses, spoorns, men-ixi- 
the-oak, hell-wains, fire-drakes, kit-a-can-stiuks, Tom-tumblers, 
melch-dicks, larrs, kitty-witches, hobby-lanthorns, Dick-a- 

1. Boggle-honse, parish of Sedgefield. Bcllingham Boggle-Hole, 
Novthd. [Bogle-houses in Lowick Forest, Northumberland.] 

2. There is also a river of this name in the Bishopric of Durham. 
Also at York is Browncy Dike, a portion of the Foss. 

3. Tho York Barguest. See Memoirs of Ji. Surtees, Esq. ; new 
ed., p. 80, 1852. 

4. This merry fay acted the part of fool or jester, at the court of 
Oberon, the fairy monarch. 

5. Hag-House. A farmstead near Brancepeth. 
C. The Mortham Dobby. A Tcesdale goblin. 

7. Hob-o-t'-Hursts, i.e. spirits of the woods. Hohthrush Rook, 
Farndale, Yorkshire. 

S. The spirit or double of a dying person. 

9. Mock-beggar Hall. Of houses, rocks, etc., bearing this name 
we meet with many instances. 


Tuesdays, Elf-fires, Gyl-burnt-tails, knockers, elves (10), raw- 
heads, Meg-with-the-wads, old-shocks, ouphs, pad-fooits, pixies, 
pictrees (11), giants, dwafs, Tom-pokers, tutgots, snapdragons, 
sprets, spunks, conjurers, thurses, spurns, tantarrabobs, swaithes, 
(12), tints, tod-lowries, Jaek-in-the-Wads, mormos, changelings, 
redcaps, yeth-hounds, colt-pixies, Tom-thumbs, black-bugs, 
boggarts, scar-bugs, shag-foals, hodge-pochers, hob-thrushes, 
bugs, bull-beggars, bygorns, bolls, caddies, bomen, brags, 
wraithes (13), waffs (14), flay -boggarts, fiends, gallytrots, 
imps, gytrashes, patches, hob-and-lanthorns, gringes, boguests, 
bonelesses, Peg-powlers (15), pucks, fays, kidnappers, gaily - 
beggars, hudskins, nickers, madcaps, trolls, robinets, friars' 
lanthorns, silkies (16), cauld-lads (17), death-hearses, goblins 
(18), hob-headlesses (19), buggaboes, kows (20), or cowes, 
nickies, nacks, [necksj waiths (21), miffies, buckies, gholes, 
sylphs, guests, swarths, freiths, freits, gy-carlins [Gyre-carling] 

10. Elf-Hills, parish of Hutton-in-the-Forest, Cumberland. Elf- 
How, parish of Kendal. Elf-Hills, near Cambo. 

11. There is a village of this name near Chester-le-Street ; and 
singular enough a ghost story, called the " Picktree Bragg," is 
attached to it. See Keightley's Fairy Mythology, Bohn's ed. p. 310. 

12. 13, 14, 21, 23, 27. The same with note 8. 

, 15. This oulde ladye is the evil goddess of the Tees. I also meet 
with a Nanny Powler, at Darlington, who from the identity of their 
sirnames, is, I judge, a sister, or it may be a daughter of Peg's. 
Nanny Powler, aforesaid, haunts the Skerne, a tributary of the Tees. 

16. The Heddon Silky, and Silky's Brig, near Heddon. See 
Bichardson's Table Book, Leg. Div., vol. ii., p. 181. 

17. Occasionally, we may hear Cowed, or rather Cowd Lad. The 
meaning, however, is the same ; Cowd being a variation of the more 
refined word, cold. 

18. Goblin Field, near Mold, Flintshire. 

19. Hub-Cross-Hill. A place near Doncaster. 

20. " The Hedley Kow," a Northumberland ghost story. 


pigmies, chittifaces, nixies (22), Jinny-burnt-tails, dudmen 
hell-hounds, dopple-gangers (23), boggleboes, bogies, redmen 
portunes, grants, hobbit3, hobgoblins, brown-men (24), cowies 
dunnies (25), wirrikows (26), alholcles, mannikins, follets 
koiTeds, lubberkins, cluricauns, kobolds, leprechauns, kors 
mares, korreds, puckles, korigans, sylvans, succubuses, black- 
men, shadows, banshees, lian-hanshees, clabbernappers, Gabriel- 
hounds, mawkins, doubles (27), corpse lights or candles, scrats, 
mahounds, trows, gnomes, sprites, fates, fiends, sybils, nick- 
nevins (28), white women, fairies (29), thrummy-caps (30), 

22. " Know you fhe nixies, gay and fair ? 

Their eyes are black, and green their hair, 
They lurk in sedgy waters." 


24. See ghost story of the " Brown Man of the Moor." Richard- 
son's Table Book. 

25. The Hazelrigg Dunny. An excellent Northumberland ghost 


26. " Frae gudame's mouth auld warld tale they hear, 
0' warlocks louping round the wirriknow." 

The works of Robt. Fergusson, ed. by A. B. Grossart, Edin., 1851, 
p. Gl. 

Mr. Maxwell uses worrikow as the name of a ghost in his Border 
Sketches. From the honour paid to him, according to the above 
couplet, he appears to have been a sort of master hobgoblin. 

28. Mother witches. 

29. Fairy Dean, two miles above Melrose. Fairy Stone, near 
Foiirstones, in the parish of Warden, Northumberland. This stone, 
in which is a secret cavity, has attained a celebrity in history owing 
to the letters being placed therein, to and from the unfortunate Earl 
of Derwentwatcr, during the '15. 

30. Thrummy Hills, near Catterick. The name of this sprite is 
met with in the Fairy tales of Northumberland. 


cutties (31), and nisses, and apparitions of every shape, make, 
form, fashion, kind and description, that there was not a village 
in England that had not its own peculiar ghost. Nay, every 
lone tenement, castle, or mansion-house, which could boast of 
any antiquity had its bogle, its spectre, or its knocker. The 
churches, churchyards, and cross-roads, were all haunted. 
Every green lane had its boulder-stone on which an apparition 
kept watch at night. Every common had its circle of fairies 
belonging to it. And there was scarcely a shepherd to be met 
with who had not seen a spirit ! [See Lit. Gaz. for December, 
1848, p. 849.] 

31. These are a certain class of female Boggles, not altogether 
peculiar to Scotland, who wore their lower robes, at least, a-la-bloomer. 
They are named by Burns, in his inimitable poem Tam-o'-Shanter. 
Mr. Halliwell gives the word as localized in Somersetshire. 



" Fairies, black, grey, green and white." 


Where the scythe cuts and the sock rives, 
No more fairies and bee-bikes. 

Vervain and dill, 

Hinder[s] witches from their will. 

Aubrey's Miscellanies, p. 147. 

If your whipsticks made of rowan, 
You may ride your nag thro' ony town. 

Much about a pitch, 

Quoth the ilevil to the witch. 

Much about much, as the deil said to the witch. — Scots 

A hairy man's a geary man ; 
But a hairy wife's a witch. 

Woe to the lad, 

Without a rownn tree gad. 

Some readings give " With a," etc. 

A witch-wife and an evil, 
Is three halfpence worse than the deoril. 


Hey-how for Hallow-e'en, 
When all the witches are to be seen, 
Some in black and some in green, 
Hey-how for Hallow e'en. 

Thout ! tout ! ! a tout tout ! ! ! 
Throughout and about. 

The cry of the Somersetshire witches, when on their aerial 
travels by night.* " 

Cummer goe ye before, cummer goe ye, 
Gif ye will not goe before, cummer let me.| 

The above verses are said to have been the words of a song 
sung at North Berwick, in Lothian, accompanied by the music 
of a Jew's harp or trump, which was played by Geilles Duncan, 
a servant-girl, before two hundred witches, who joined hands 
in a short daunce or reel, singing these lines all the while with 
one voice. 

Witchy, witcby, I defy thee ! 
Four fingers round my thumb, 
Let me go quietly by thee ! ! 

The anti-witch rhyme used in Teesdale some sixty or seventy 
years ago. 

Black-luggie, lammer-bead, 
Rowan tree, and reed thread, 
Put the witches to their speed. 

The meaning of black-luggie, I know not. [A small wooden 
vessel made of staves, ono of which projects as a handle.] 

* This is a sort of freebooting cry. 
f Cummer. A gossip, a young girl. 


Lammcr-bead — a coruption of amber-bead. Such beads are 
still worn by a few old people in Scotland, as a preservation 
against a variety of diseases, especially asthma, dropsy, and 
tooth-ache. They also preserve the wearer from the effects of 
witchcraft, as stated in the text. I have seen a twig of rowan- 
tree, witchwood, quickbane [i.e. quickbeam from cwic, alive 
and beam a tree], wild-ash, witchbane, royne-tree, mountain 
ash, wicken-tree, wicky, wiggy, witchen, whitty, royan, roun 
or ran-tree ; also called wiggan, witty,' wiggin, witch-hazel, 
roden, quicken, or roan-tree, * which had been gathered on the 
2nd of May [observe this], wound round with some dozens of 
yards of reed threed, i.e., red threed, placed visibly in the 
window, to act as a charm in keeping witches and boggleboes 
from the house. So also wo have : — 

Rowan ash and reed threed 
Keep the devils fra' their speed. 

Ye brade o' witches, ye can do no good to yourself. 

Fair they come, fair they go, and always their heels behind them. 

Neither so sinful as to sink, nor so godly as to swim. 

Falser than Waghorn (Wagner), and he was nineteen times falser 
than tbe devil. 

Ingratitude is worse than witchcraft. 

Ye're as mitch as half a witch. 

To milk the tether (i.e., the cow-tie). 

To cany off the milk from any one's cow, by milking a hair- 
tether. A piece of superstition once prevalent in Scotland 
— (equally well known in the North of England). 

Go in God's name, so you ride no witches. 

Rynt (arroint) you, witch, quoth Bess Lockit to her mother. 

* To this list may be added Hicken. 
G 2 


They that burn you for a witch lose all their coals. 

Never talk of witches on a Friday. 

Ye're ower aude ffarrand to be fraid o' witches. 

Witches are most apt to confess on a Friday. 

Friday is the witches' Sabbath. 

To hug one, as the devil hugs a witch. 

Laughs like a pixy (i.e. fairy). 

Laughing like pixies. — Devonshire proverb, Athenaeum, 
1846, p. 1092. 

As black (*} as "j 

As cross as I 

As ugly as } a witch - 

As sinful as J 

Four fingers and a thumb, witch, I defy thee ! 

Waters locked ! Waters locked ! ! 

A favourite cry of fairies. 

Borram ! Borram!! Borram!!! 

The cry of the Irish fairies, after mounting their steeds, 
parallel with the Scottish cry, — 

Horse ! Horse !! and Hattock !!! f 

Ye're like a witch, ye say your prayers backward. 

So many gipsies so many smiths. 

The gipsies are all akin. 

To live in the land of the Fair family. 

A Welsh fairy saying. 

* Witches were of two kinds, black and white. The former were 
looked upon as the most dangerous and devilish. 

f This cry and the one immediately preceding are also of the 
ravins' or frebooting class. 


God grant that the sweet * fairies may put money in your shoes and 
sweep your house clean. 

One of the good wishes of the olden time. 

Ho who finds a piece of money will always find another in the same 
place, as long as he keeps it a secret. 

Fairies comb goats' beards every Friday. 

Its going on like Stokepitch's can. 

A pixy saying, used in Devonshire. The family of Stokes- 
pitch or Sukespic, resided near Topsham ; and a barrel of ale in 
their cellar had for many years continued to run freely without 
being exhausted. It was considered a valuable heirloom, and 
was valued accordingly, until a curious maid servant took out 
the bung to ascertain the cause of this extraordinary power. On 
looking into the cask she found it full of cobwebs ; but the 
Pixies, it would appear, were offended, for on turning the cock, 
as usual, the ale had ceased to flow ! 

The common reply at Topsham to the inquiry how any affair 
went on was, " Its going on," &c, i.e., it was proceeding pros- 

You're half a witch, i.e., very cunning. 
To laugh like Robin Goodfellow. t 
Buzz! Buzz !! Buzz!!! 

In the middle of tli9 sixteenth century if a person waved his 
hat or bonnet in the air and cried Buzz ! three times, under the 
belief that by this act he would take away the life of another, 

* (Swot, qy. swairt, dark, tawny, swarthy. 

f This merry fay acted the part of fool or jester in the court of 
Olicron, the Fairy King. And if we may believe Gervase of Tilbury, 
liobin was the offspring of a proper young wench by a hee-fayrie, a 
king or something of that kind among them. 


the old law and lawmakers considered the person so saying and 
acting to be worthy of death, he being a murderer in intent and 
having dealings with witches. 

T wish I was a far from God as my nails are from dirt. 
A witches prayer whilst she was in the act of cleaning her 

All my losses and crosses go alongst the door. 

Wednesday is the fairies' sabbath or holiday. 

She's like a witch, scratch till the blood come, and she cannot hurt 

A witch is afraid of her own blood. 

A Pendle Forest witch. 

A Lancashire witch. 

A witch cannot greet, i.e., weep. 

One of the Faw gang. 

Worse than the Faw gang. 

The Faws are a species of gipsies. It is supposed that they 
acquired this appellation from Johnnie Faw, Lord and Earl of 
Little Egypt, with whom James TV. and Queen Mary saw not 
only the propriety, but also necessity, of entering into special 

Francis Heron, King of the Faws, bur. [Jarrow] 13 January 
1756. — Sharp's Chron. Mir. 

To laugh like old Bogie. 

He caps Bogie. 

Amplified to — 

He caps Bogie, bogie capt Redcap, and Redcap capt Old Nick. 

To be hag [or witch] ridden. 

See Tel tor's Tales and Ballads. "Witches of Birtlcy ; a 


Northumberland Tradition." London. 1852. — Keightley's Fairy 
Mythology, p. 332. London. 1850. 

Nightmare. A spirit or hag of the night. 
To play the Puck. 

An Irish saying parallel with the English. To play the 
deuce or devil. — Keightley's Fairy Mythology. 

Has got into Lob's pound [or pond]. 

That is into the fairy pinfold. Ibid. 

Pinch like a fairy. 

" Pinch them, arms, legs, backs, shoulders, sides, and shins." — 
Merry Wives of Windsor. 

He's got Piggwiggan, vulgo Peggy Wiggan. 

A severe fall or somerset is so termed in the Bishopric. 
The fairy Pigwiggan is celebrated by Drayton in his 

To be fairy struck. 

The paralysis is, or rather perhaps was, so called. — Fairy 

There never has been a merry world since the Phynodderee lost his 

A Manx fairy saying. See Train's Isle of Man, ii. p. 148 ; 
Popular Rhymes, etc., of the Isle of Man, pp. 16-17. 

To be pixey led. 

" When a man has got a wee drap ower muckle whusky, 
misses his way homo, and gets miles out of his direct course, he 
tolls a tale of excuse, and whiles lays the blame on the innocent 
pixies." — See Fairy Mythology, p. 300. 


The fairies lanthorn. 
That is the glowworm. 

God speed you, gentlemen. 

When an Irish peasant sees a cloud of dust sweeping along 
the road, he raises his hat and breathes forth the above blessing 
in behoof of the company of invisible fairies whom he believes 
to have caused it. — Ibid., pp. 363-4. 

The Phooka have dirtied the blackberries. 

Ibid. Said when the fruit of the bramble is spoilt through 
age at the end of the season. In the North of England we say, 
The Devil has set his foot on the bumblekites. 

Fairy, fairy, bake me a bannock and roast me a collop, 
And I'll give ye a spurtle affmy gad end. 

Spoken three times by the Clydesdale peasant when plough- 
ing, under, the impression that on his getting to the end of the 
fourth furrow those good tilings will be spread forth on the 
grass.— Chambers' Popular Rhymes, Scotland, 3rd ed., p. 106. 

Turn your clokes (coats) 
For fairy folkes 
Are in old okes. 

[" Now the pixeys work is done, 

We take our clothes and off we run." 

Devonshire, Athenmim, 1846, p. 1092.] 

I well remember that on more occasions than one, when a 
schoolboy, I have turned and worn my coat inside out in 
passing through a wood in order to avoid the good people. On 
" Nutting Days "—those glorious red-letter days in the school- 
boy's calendar— the use pretly generally prevailed. The rhymes 
in the text are the English formula,— Sec Keightley,^. 29]l300. 


[Children in Scotland blacken marbles, which they then 
call witches, imagining that these are not so readily struck 
when played at. They also invoke the witch when their play- 
fellow aims his marble, by spitting between him and the mark 

" Black witch before your nose, 
Paddy (Paddock) pit ye oot."] 




" A merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and a jovial Handsel 

A black Christmas makes a fat churchyard. 

If the ice will bear a goose before Christmas, it will not bear a duck 

The twelve days of Christmas. 

As dark as a Yule midnight. 

Every day's no Yule day — cast the cat a castock. 

That is a cabbage stalk, and the proverb means much the 
same thing as " Spare no expense, bring another bottle of small 
beer ! " 

Yule I Yule ! a pack of new cards and a Christmas fule. 

Some readings give stule, i.e. stool, in place of " fule." 
Aubrey says it was sung in the West Riding of Yorkshire when 
the Yule log was brought in. 

A green Yule makes a fat kirk-yard. 

Big as a Christmas pig ! 

It's good to cry Yule ai another man's cost. 


As many mince pies as yon taste at Christmas, so many happy 
months you will have. 

A trite observation, general through the whole of Westmore- 
land and Cumberland, counties celebrated for their extreme 
hospitality. There is an ancient custom at Piddle-Hinton, Dor- 
setshire, for the rector to give away on old Christmas day, 
annually, a pound of bread, a pint of ale, and a mince pie, to 
every poor person in the parish. This distribution is regularly 
made by the rector to upwards of three hundred persons. — 
Charity Commissioners' Report, vol. xxix. p. 108. 

A windy Christmas is a sign of a good year. 
As bare as a birch at Yule even. 

In allusion to the Christmas log. It is spoken of one in 
extreme poverty. [This does not concern the Christmas log. 
Birches are denuded of their foliage long before Christmas, 
hence Laidlaw's fine lines : 

" "Twas when the wan leaf frae the birk tree was fa'in, 
And Martinmas dowie had wound up the year." 

A birch-wood in winter, with its multiplicity of dark twigs, is 
extremely bare.] 

A Yule feast may bo quit at Pasche, 

i.e., a Christmas feast may be paid again at Easter, or, " one 
good turn deserves another." 

Christmas comes but once a year. 

Ghosts never appear on Christmas eve. 

Shakespeare attests to the truthfulness of this old saw. 

Busy as an English oven at Christmas. 
Cnld as Christmas. 


A kiss at Christmas and an egg at Easter. 
They talk of Christmas so long that it comes. 
Yule is good on Yule even. 
After a Christmas comes a Lent. 

In other words, " After a feast comes a famine." 

A jolly wassail bowl. 

A winter council, a careful Christmas, and a bloody Lent. 

Nixon's Cheshire Proph. 

I'll bring your Yule belt to the Beltane bore. 


A light Christmas, a heavy sheaf. 

She simpers like a frummetty kettle at Christmas. 

One of the dark days before Christmas. 

Now's now, but Yule's in winter. 

The year lasts longer than Yule. 

The day of St. Thomas, the blessed divine, 

Is good for brewing, baking, and killing fat swine. 

The 21st December. This too is the shortest day, and the 
commencement of the winter quarter. It is likewise the first 
day of the festival of all festivals — Christmas — which anciently 
continued without intermission from this day to the second of 
February, the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin 
Mary; but Christmas day and the twelve days succeeding were 
considered the most sacred to mirth and hospitality ; hence the 
proverbial phrase, " The twelve daj-s of Christmas." A custom, 
I believe, still exists in some parts of England of ringing a 
merry peal upon the bells of the parish steeple on this day. It 
is called " Ringing in Christmas." While speaking of bell- 
ringing at this festival, I may as well here observe that a 
practice of considerable antiquity still exists at Dewsbury, 


Yorkshire, which consists in ringing the great bell of the 
church at midnight on Christmas eve. This knell is called the 
Devil's Passing Bell. The bell is tolled in the manner of a 
funeral or passing bell. The moral of it is that the devil died 
when Christ was born. This use was discontinued for many 
years, but was revived by the vicar in 1828. — ■ Collect. Topograph. , 
vol. i. p. 167. The Eev. Ant. Sterry, vicar of Lidney, gave by 
deed, in the fortieth of Queen Elizabeth, the sum of five 
shillings per annum, payable out of an estate called the Clasp 
in this parish (Ruardean, Gloucestershire), for ringing a peal on 
Christmas eve, about midnight, for two hours, in commemora- 
tion of the Nativity. The money is still received and applied 
as directed. — Char. Com. Rep., vol. xix. p. 10j. 

St. Thomas's day is past and gone, 
And Christmas is most acorns. 

Maidens arise, 

And bake your pies, 
An save poor tailor Bobby some. 

Halliwell's Nursery Rhymes, 4th ed., p. 220. 

Bouncer, Buckler, velvet's dear, 
And Christmas comes but once a year, 
Though when it comes it brings god cheer, 
So farewell Christmas once a year. 

Varia : Bounce, Buckram, velvet's dear, 

Christmas comes but once a year, 
And when it comes it brings good cheer, 
But when it's gone it's never the near. 

Sec note on these rhymes, Halliwell's Rhyme*, 4th ed., p. 4-1. 

He's a i'ule that marries at Yule, 
For when the bairn's to bear 
The corn's to shear. 


A meet companion for the following : — 

He who marries between the syckle and the scythe, will never 

Perhaps the latter proverb was more strictly true when our 
forefathers devoted a whole month in which to celebrate their 
nuptials, to the entire neglect of all other matters. The former 
still holds good with agricultural labourers at the present 

Make we mirth for Christ's birth, 
And sing we Yulo till Candlemas. 

It's good crying Yule ! 
On another man's stool. 

If Christmas day on a Monday fall, 
A troublous winter we shall have all. 

Yule ! Yule ! Yule ! Yule ! 
Three puddings in a pule (pool), 
Crack nuts and cry Yule ! 

This was, some fifty years ago, a common cry in the counties 
of York and Durham, on the night of Christmas day ; but what 
the three puddings in a pule are intended to typify I have 
never been able to discover, unless it be three plum puddings 
on a ponderous pewter dish, floating, as it were, in a pule of 
sweetened rum sauce ! The ■ command to crack nuts may be 
inferred from the following extract from a Christmas carol, 
given at the end of old George Withers' " Juvenilia " : — 

Hark how the wagges abrode doe call 

Each other foorth to rambling; 
Anon, yon'l see them in the hall, 

For nuts and apples scamhling. 

The cry of " Yule, Yule, Yule ! " used anciently to be made 


in our northern churches after service on Christmas day, the 
people at the same time dancing to the words. — See Glosso- 
graphia, ed. 1681, p. 692. 

Hogmanay, trollolay; 

Give us some of your white bread, 

But none of your grey. 

Hagmena, Hagmena ; 
Give us bread and cheese, 
And let us away. 

This and the preceding partake more of the quality of cries 
or chansons than proverbs. They were sung or said by 
children on the last day of the year, when collecting their farls, 
as they named it, of oaten cake and cheese. — See Gentleman's 
Magazine, vol. Is. p. 499. 

Blessed be St. Steven, 
There's no fasting on his even. 

The eve of this day is Christmas day, and the rhymes are 
happily expressive of the good eating and great doings at this 
festive season. 

Oh ! dirty December: 
But Christmas remember ! 

Yule is young on Yule even, 
And old on St. Steven. 

■When Yule comes, dule comes, 

Could feet and legs ; 
When Pasche comes, grace comes, 

Butter, milk, and eggs. 

Chambers's Popular Rhymes, Scotland. 

At Christmas play, and make good cheer, 
For Christmas comes but once a year. 


Martinmas is past and gone, 

Christmas in drawing near, 
There's no a piece mutton in a' the house 

To serve out for Christmas cheer. 

Wooler, Northumberland. 

Between Martinmas and Yule, 
Water's worth wine in any pule. 

Yule is come, and Yule is gon"e, 

And we have feasted weel ; 
So Jack must to his flail again, 

And Jenny to her wheel. 

The following stanzas are the only now remaining fragments 
of the Hagmena Song, as sung by the pinder of the borough 
of Richmond, in com. Ebor : — 

To-night it is the New Year's eve, to-morrow is the day, 
And we are come for our right, and for our ray, 
As we used to do in Old King Henry's day. 

Sing, fellows, sing ! Hagman heigh ! 

If you go to the bacon-flick, cut me a good bit ; 
Cut, cut, and high, beware of your bra? ; 
Cut, cut, and low, beware of your maw ; 
Cut, cut, and round, beware of your thoom, — 
That me and my merry men may (have some).* 
Sing, fellows, sing ! Hagman heigh ! 

If you go to the black-ark, j" bring me out x mark, 
Ten mark, x pound, throw it down upon the ground, 
That me and my merry men may (hare some) — 
Sing, fellows, sing ! Hagman heigh ! 

* These two words are omitted in the copy taken down from the 
recitation of old master Craven, tho ju'nder of the borough. 

| The black ark was a ponderous piece of oaken furniture about six 


The dish- clout hangs upon a pin, 
Rise maids and let us in : 
Be she maid or be she nane, 
If she comes she must be ta'en.* 

Sing, fellows, sing ! Hagman heigh ! 

*„* Permit me to suggest the following additional stanza to the 
notice of the jolly old Pinder of Richmond, should he be spared 
to sing this song at the commencement of another year. I fancy 
it would chime in tolerably after verse two : — 

Then gang to your aumbric if you please, 
And fetch us here some bread and cheese ; 
Next bring us out an old whetstane, 
And we'll sharpen our whittles every ane, 
That me and my merry men may have some. 

Sing, fellows, sing ! Hagman heigh ! 

feet in length and three in depth ; the inside was usually divided into 
two parts. Occasionally they had false bottoms. These kists are 
often to be met with in the dwellings of ancient housekeepers beauti- 
fully carved, bearing the initials of the first owner and the date of 
the construction. Their original use was that of holding linen, clothes, 
and various other items of still higher value, as implied in the text. 
They are now generally devoted to the purpose of holding flour and 
bread meal. In Westmoreland they are often used as repositories for 
haver cakes. 

There is an old proverb which says, " The muck-midden is the 
mother of the meal-ark ; " and it is one, too, which altereth not with 

In the will of Bernard Gilpin, 1582, the testator leaves to the 
" poore of Houghton p'ishe, the greater new ark for come, standin 
in the hall to p'vide them grotes in winter." 

* Evidently a spurious verse, and belonging to another song, or 
rather erased, ,SVc my reply to Steddy, letter first, pp. 1, 2. 


" Merry men," anciently written " merrie men," is a term of 
frequent occurrence in the early songs and ballads of the North ; 
its meaning as here used is true, faithful, &c. The- word is 
applied characteristically to Wakefield and Carlisle. On the word 
" ray," used in the first verse, I may observe that it evidently 
alludes to a sort of cloth woven in party-coloured stripes. The 
richer clothes of this hind had streaks of gold and silver. 

And everych of them a good mantell 
Of scarlet and of raye. — Robin Hood. 

See an ancient specimen of the Hagmena Song in Mr. Wright's 
Songs and Carols of the Fifteenth Century. Printed for the Percy 
Society, Oct. 1847, p. 63. 

Yf Christmas day on the Saterday falle, 
That winter ys to be dredden alle ; 
Hyt shalbe so full of grete tempeste, 
That hyt shall sle hothe man and beste ; 
Frnte and corne shall fayle grete won, 
And olden folkes dyen many on. 
Whate woman that day of chylde travayle, 
They shalbe borne in grete perelle ; 
And chyldren that be born that day, 
Within halfe a yere they shall dye, par fay. 
The somer than shall wete ryghte ylle, 
Yf thou awghte stele, hyt shal the spylle ; 
Tho dyest yf sekenes take the. 

The seventh and last stanza of a Christmas song of the 
fifteenth century. [Excerpit from MS. Harl, No. 2252, 
fol. 154 i\] 

New Year's Tide. 

A happy New Fear and a merry (or jovial) Handsel Monday. 
Handsel Monday is the first Monday in the New Year. 

Praise we the Lord that hath no peer, 
And thank wo him for this New Year. 


If New Year's eve niglit wind blow south, 

If betokeneth warmth and growth : 

If west, much milk and fish in the sea; 

If north, much cold and storms there will be ; 

If east, the trees will bear much fruit ; 

If north-east, flee it man and brute. 

In Sir John Sinclair's Stat. Acct. of Scotland, Edin., 1794, 
8vo. vol. xii, p. 458, the minister of Kirkmichael, in county. 
Banff, under the head of " Superstitions," etc., communicates : 
On the first night in January they observe with anxious 
attention the disposition of the atmosphere. Their faith in these 
signs is couched in verses which may be thus translated : 

The wind of the south will be productive of heat and fertility. 
The wind of the west of milk and fish. 
The wind of the north of cold and storm. 
The wind from the east of fruit on the trees. 

The Highlanders on New Year's day burn juniper before 
their cattle. 

At New Year's tide, 

The days lengthen a cock's stride. 

This saying is intended to express the lengthening of the 
days in a small but perceptible degree. The countryman well 
knows the truth of what ho says from observing where the 
shadow of the upper lintel of the door falls at twelve o'clock, 
and there making a mark. At New Year's day, the sun at the 
meridian being higher, its shadow comes nearer the door by 
four or five inches, which, for rhyme's sake, is called " a cock's 
stride," and so expresses the sensible increase of the day. — 
Gent. Mag., 1759. 

ii 2 



Memorial Lines oh the Months. 

1. Thirty days hath September, 
April, June, and November, 
February hath twenty-eight alone, 
And all the rest have thirty-and-one, 
Unless that leap year doth combine, 
And give to February twenty-nine. 

Young Man's Companion, 1 703 

2. Thirty days hath fruit-bearing September, 
Moist April, hot June, and cold November, 
Short February twenty-eight alone ; 

The other months have either thirty-one ; 
And February, when the fourth year's run, 
Does gain a day from the swift-moving sun. 

Shepherd's Kalendar; or Countryman's 
Daily Companion. 

3. Thirtie days hath September, 
April, June, and November ; 

The rest have thirtie-and-one, 

Save February alone, 
Which monthe hath but eight-and-twenty meere ; 
Save when it is bissextile, or leap yeare. 

Coiicordancy of Yeares, A. Hopton, 1615, p. 60. 


4. Thirty dayes hath November, 
April, June, and September ; 
February hath xxvm alone, 
And all the rest hare xxxi. 

Grafton's Chronicle, 1 570, 8vo. 

5. Thirty dayes hath November, 
April, June, and September, 

Twenty -and-eight hath February alone, 
And all the rest thiity-and-one, 
But in the leape you must add one. 

Harrison's Dis. Brit., p. 119. 

Memorial Lines used isy the Society of Friends. 

6 Days twenty-eight in second month appear, 
And one day more is added each leap year: 
The fourth, eleventh, ninth, and sixth months run 
To thirty days, — the rest to thirty-one. 

Partial Variations. 

7. Except in leap year, at which time, 
February's days are twenty-nine. 

8. But leap year cometh once in four, 
And gives to February one day more. 

9. Except in February alone, 

In which do twenty-eight appear, 
And twenty-nine in each leap year. 

To find leap year you have this rule : — 

Divide by iv, what's left shall be, 
For leap year 0, for past i, ii, and iii, 



A Rhyme whereby to remember on what Day of the Week 
each Month falleth. 

April loveth to lint with July, Sunday. 

And the merry New Year with October comes by, Monday. 

August for Wednesday, Tuesday for May, Tuesday and Wednesday. 
March and November and Valentine's Day Thursday. 

Friday is June day. and last we seek, Friday. 

September and Christmas to finish the week. Saturday. 

Rhymes on the Days of Birth. 

Born on a Monday, fair of face : 

Born on a Tuesday, full of grace : 

Born on a Wednesday, merry and glad : 

Born on a Thursday, sour and sad: 

Born on a Friday, godly given : 

Born on a Saturday, work for your living : 

Born on a Sunday, never shall want, 

And here ends the week, and there's an end on't. 

Rhymes on Wedding Days. 

Monday for wealth, 

Tuesday for health, 
Wednesday the best day of all ; 

Thursday for crosses, 

Friday for losses, 
And Saturday no luck at all. 

Rhymes on the Days op the Week. 

Saturday is Sunday's brother, 

Monday is no other : 

Tuesday is the market day, 

Wednesday carries the week away : 

Thursday I won't spin, 

And on Friday I'll never begin. 



A Revelation, on Chabact. 

In the Athenian Oracle a charm is defined to be " a form of 
words or letters, repeated or written, whereby strange things 
are pretended to be done, beyond the ordinary power of nature." 
—Vol. ii. p. 424. 

" If there be any good or use unto the health in spels, they 
have that prerogative by accident, and by the power and vertue 
of fancie. If fancie then be the foundation whereupon buildeth 
the good of spels, spels must needs be as fancies are, uncertaine 
and vaine ; so must also, by consequent, be their use, and helpo, 
and no lesse all they that trust unto them." — Cotta, Short Dis- 
coveiie of the Unobserved Dangers of sever all sorts of Ignorant and 
Unronsiderate Practisers of Physicke in England. 4to. London, 
1612, p. 50. 

The sale of charms was, a century or two ago, a not un- 
common thing in England ; it has now, happily, however, wholly 
fallen into desuetude, with the exception of the lower classes of 
our brethren from the sister isle. The wholesale usage is still 
prevalent through the states of his Holiness the Pope ; also in 
Spain, in Portugal, and in Ireland ; in all which countries, be 
it observed, the religion of the Romish Church exists in its 
most debased and intolerant forms. In the city of Leon (Spain) 
"printed charms and incantations against Satan and his host, and 
against every kind of misfortune, are publicly sold in the shop* 


and are in great demand. Such are the results of popery." — 
Borrow's Bible in Spain. The same author says that he met 
with charms of this class not only on the persons of the lower 
classes, but he gives a translation of one which he borrowed 
from one of the upper grades, who boasted that in it were con- 
tained every hope of earthly safety. — Bible in Spain, cap. iii. 
The following Anglo-Irish specimen of one of these religious 
tracts in manu scripta is copied verb, et lit. for the edification of 
the curious in charms, incantations, revelations, spells, and such 
like items of the vulgar creed. 

A Charm. 

" For ye Blessing of Godd and His Son Jhesu Christ. 

"A true coppy of y 3 Leter writen by God own hand and it 
was found in a valey named Macconaby near to 3-e town of 
Jesundry in ye valey named Macconaby in ye year of our Lord 
mdclxix. this Letter was written by the command of Jesus 
CriSt which was found under a great Red Stone Large it 
was and not far from y e afors'd Town of Jesundry in ye valey 
named Macconaby which was found in a morning and 
Engraven [with] theas words following Blessed are thay that 
Turneth me over y e people that Saw y e Stone writen and 
Engraven did endevour to torn It over but thear Labour was in 
Vain, so that thay could Not by any Means move it and when 
thay could not prevaill thay prayed Ernest! j r de Siring God That 
thay might and of that Same writing and thear came a Litle 
Child betwixt S'x and Seven years of age which ye Same Stone 
it turned over and without any world by [qy. worldly] help to 
y° Great admaration of ye Beholders the Stone be [qy. being] 
turned over ther was found a Leter writen whith Golden Leters 
by the very hand of JeSus ChriSt which this Leter was carried 
to Jesundry to be red in the Town be longing to y e Lady 

CHARMS. 105 

Pencelbeo in diderioll (sic) itt was written by ye command of 
JeSus CliriStt An Sent by an angell in ye year of Our Lord 
MDCIII. which commandment was as foloweth firSt you Shall 
Love one another Secondly thay that Workct home [on] ye 
Sobboth shall be excommunicate [in the original this word is 
partially defaced] Command that you go to Church and keep 
that Day holy fourthly with Labour and Endevour and 
EarneStly desire me to forgive all your Sins my commandments 
you Shall faithfully and zealously keep fifthly you Shall 
faithfully believe that it was writin with my own hands you 
shall go to the Church and your Children and your Servants 
with you thear and obServe my words you Shall Chasten and 
correck your Children tach [teach] them to keepe my command- 
ments you Shal Live with brotherlye Love you Shal Leave 
work one [on] Setterday at nighte at five o'clock In 
ye Evening and So continu untell munday at morning 
you Shall fast five days in y e ememrance [remem- 
brance] of the five wounds I Received for you you Shalle 
not tack Nether Gold nor Silver wrongfully nether sorning 
[scorning] my words nor my doings and I will give 
mannyfold blesings and Long Life unto your Cattle and your 
Land shall be repleniched with fruitfully To bring forth abun- 
danse of all Sorts of fruite and Blessings Shall come upon you 
and I will comfort you but thay that do contrary Shall Cursed 
be and not blesed and thear Cattell Shall be cursed and unfruite- 
full I will send upon yow Lightenings and Thunderboults and 
want of Good Things I will send upon you that be witneSs 
againSt this my writing and beliveing that it was not writen 
with my own hand Spoken with my mouth and they whear 
with given to the poor and will not Shall be cursed and not 
blessed of mc in yo Conclution of theas Remember That you 
keep holy ye Sabboth day without any Provaning of ye Same 
knoweth 1 have given you Sex days to Labour one [on] ye 


Seventh my Self EeSted if any write a coppy of this Letter and 
keep it without teaching of others shall be Cursed and not blesed 
and whoSoever writ a coppy of this Letter with his own hand 
[and] Causeth it to be red and Publiched he Shall [be] Blesed 
of me and if he Sinned of then" [qy. often] as thare is Stars 
in ye Sky his Sins shall be forgiven him again If you do not 
believe theas but go again my Commandments I send unto 
him wormes which will d'Sstroy you and your children and your 
Goods or what So ever you hath more over if any writ a copy 
of this Leter and keep it within his hous no Evil Spiret shall 
hantt him If any woman be big with child if She hath a 
coppy of this Leter abougkt [her] Shea Shall be delevered of 
her burthen you Shall hear no more of me untell ye day of 
Judgement all good nes and gladneS Shall come whear a coppy 
of this Letter is kept. 

" Laus Deo 

" In nomina patris et Alius et spiritus sanctus. 

" Amen." 

Waldron in his description of the Isle of Man names a 
Charact or Cbarect of very similar talismanic properties the 
original of which Manxmen assert to have been found under a 
Cross in the Island which he had frequently seen. 



All are not hunters that blow the horn. 

" It is not the value of the fox, but the pleasure of the chase that 
makes men foxhunters." 

Better to hunt the fields for health unbought, 
Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught." 


Chapter I. 

Foxes never fare better than when they are cursed. 

Foxes dig not their own holes. 

He who would have a hare for breakfast must hunt overnight. 

As cunning as a klyket (fox). 

Foxes prey furthest from their earths. 

Does not know a fox from a fern bush. 

[It's either the tod or the fern-buss. — Ber.] 

The fox the finder. 

He that will! ^fTf the fox must arise betimes. 

The fox knows much, but more he that catches him. 

Every fox must pay his own skin to the flayer. 

As long runs the fox as his feet. 

The fox will not leave a lamb to dine on a carrion-crow. 

Does not know a hawk from a heronsew. 

Hawks don't \ ?° v ® ; , „ > out hawk's e'en. 
\varta, pikej 

The gentle hawk mans herself. 


To fly at all gama. 

Hold fast is the first point in hawking. 

Empty hands lure no hawks. 

High flying hawks are good for princes. 

Between hawk and buzzard. — Hay. 

He's a hawk of the right nest. 

A goss-hawk strikes not at a bunting. 

He's a good dog can catch all. 

You can have nothing of the cat but her skin.* 

The hare starts when least expected. 

The foremost (varia, hindmost) dog catches the hare. 

The more you hunt, the more hares you have.f 

Dogs that put up many hares kill none. 

If you run two hares you will catch neither. 

He runs with the hounds and holds with the hare. 

Little dogs start the hare but great ones catch it {i.e. eat it). 

To fright the hare is not the way to catch her. 

Where we least think there goeth the hare away. 

We dogs worried the hare. 

Find a hare without a meuse (a hiding place). 

A houndless man comes tothe best hunting. 

Many hounds may soon worry one hare. 

We hounds slew the hare ! quoth the Messett. 

A cripple on a cow may catch a hare. 

Varia 1. A cripple may catch a hare. 

2. A cow may catch a hare. 
Perseverance kills the game. 

A calf's head will feed a huntsman and his hounds. 
Dog won't eat dog. 

If you had not aimed at the partridge you had not missed the 

* There is a tradition in Wales that there was once a people 
inhabiting Britain who, destitute of dogs, trained foxes and wild cats 
for the chnse. — J. II. 

| Explained by when one is killed another comes and takes her 


War, hunting, and law, are :is full of troubles as pleasures. 

A buck of the first head. 

To take heart of grace (? hart of grease). 

The stag when near spent always returns home. 

Those who hunt are above the necessity of labour. 

To hunt a hare with an ox. — Plutarch. 

Ceamer IT. 

If you be hurt with hart it brings thee to thy bier, 

But barber's hand will boar hurt heal, therefore you need not fear. 

Dog-draw, stable-stand, 
Back-bear, bloody-hand. 

The above rhymes imply that the king's forester had power to 
arrest a man whom he suspected of having been hunting in any 
of the royal forests under any of the above circumstances. 

He that will the chase find, 

Let him try up the water and down the wind. 

Hunting, hawking, and paramours, 
For one joy a hundred displeasures. 



" The naturalists of the dark ages owed many obligations to 
our fairies, for whatever they found wonderful and could not 
account for, they easily got rid of by charging it to their 
account." — Brand's Pop. Ant. (Charles Knight & Co.), vol. 2, 
p. 285, note 15. 

" My grandmother has often told me of fairies dancing upon 
our green, and that they were little creatures clothed in green." 
— Round about our Coal Fire, p. 42. 

" But now can no man see non elves mo." 


The not yet wholly exploded belief in fairies, fays, and elves, 
still closely connects itself with — 


Fairy Slippers. 


Elf Shots/ - 


Fairy Stones. 


Fairy Cakes. 


Fairy Butter. 


Fairy Javelins. 


Fairy Pipes. 


Fairy Kettles. 


Fairy Cups. 


Fairy Loaves. 


Fairy Caldrons. 


Fairy Mushrooms. 


Fairy Wells. 


Elf Arrows. 


Fairy Hills. 


Puck Fists. 


Fairy Kings. 


Fairy Flax. 


Fairy Money. 


Fairy Bells. 


Elf Locks. 


Fairy Fingers. 




Fairy Heads, or ( 



Pixy Puffs. 

Heads < 


Pixy Seats. 


Elf Fire. 


Pixy Stools. 


Elf Knots. 


Fairy Nips. 


Fairy Saddles. 


Elf Kirks. 


Fairy Sparks, or 



Fairy Caves, Fairy Coves, 
Fairy Holes, Fairy Par- 


Fairy Stools. 



Fairy Mills. 


Pixey's Grindstones. 


Fairy Kidneys. 


Puck Needles. 


Fairy Knowes, or 



Robin Goodfellow's 


Fairy Bourns. 



Fairy Kirks. 


Elf's Glove. 


Fairy Horns. 


Fairy Sickness. 


Fairy Eings, oi 

' Pixy 


Fairy Lanthorn. 

Rings. Also 



Fairy Pools. 

Fairy Circles, or 

1 Fairy 





Fairy Hammers. 


Fairy Lint. 


Fairy Rades. 


Fairy Treasure. 


Fairy Music. 


Fairy Darts. 




Fairy Faces. 


Fairy Sabbath. 


Fairy Groats. 


Fairy Child. 


2. Encrinites and the entrochi. 

3. Tremella mescnterica. A substance occasionally found after rain 
on rotten wood or fallen timber ; in consistency and colour it is 
much like genuine butter. It is a yellow gelatinous matter, supposed 
by the country people to fall from the clouds. Hence its second 
popular name of star-jelly. 

•1. Small smoking pipes of an ancient and clumsy form continu- 
ously met with in gardens and tillage fields in the north of England. 


They are also met with in Scotland, where they are called Pech pipes, 
and in Ireland, in the immediate localities of Danish forts, where they 
are called Dane pipes. 

5. The Luck of Eden Hall is a cup of this genus. This name is 
also given to small stones perforated by friction, and believed to be 
the workmanship of Elves. 

6. See an account of a fairy's caldron in Aubrey's Nat. Hist, and 
Ant. of the co. Surrey, iii. 396. This vessel is of extraordinary size, 
and hammered out of a single piece of copper. 

7. The well near Eden Hal], Cumberland, from the brink of which 
the cup was snatched by the butler, is of this class of springs. 

8. I have been informed by an old native of Bishopton, co. 
Durham, that the singular hill existing there was in his days of child- 
hood called the Fairy Hill. 

9. These rings are in accordance with popular local mythology, 
caused during the festive meetings of the Merrie Fayes when daunc- 
ing by monelight, to ye niusique of " Eobin Goodfellowe's pipes." 

You demi-puppets, that 
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make, 
Whereof the ewe not bites ; and you whose pastime 
Is to make mid-night mushrooms. 

Prospero, The Tempest. 

10. Found treasure. Shakespeare notices this olden superstition. 
" This is fairy-gold, boy, and 'twill prove so. We are lucky, boy, 
and to be so still requires nothing but secrecy." — Winter's Tale. See 
also Massinger's Fatal Dowry, act iv. sc. 1. 

11. "His haires are curl'd and full of Elves-locks, and nitty for 
want of kembing." — Wit's Miser ie, or, The Divels Incarnat of this 
Age. By Thomas Lodge. 4to. Lond., 1596, p. 62. Another old 
author describes it as " a hard matted or clatted lock of hair in the 

12. The heads of ancient arrows or spears. They occur in abund- 
ance in some parts of Scotland. They are formed of flint, about an 
inch long and half an inch broad. Vallency says the peasants in 
Ireland wear them about their necks set in silver, as an amulet 
against being elf-shot. 


There is also a disease in horned cattle known by this name, which 
consists in an over-distension of the first stomach from the swelling 
of clover and grass when eaten with the morning dew upon it. The 
complaint is popularly believed to be produced by the stroke of an 
elf-shot or arrow. 

13. A disease consisting of a hardness of the side in ages of super- 
stition was so called. 

14. Local mythology says that a fairy javelin was in the old times 
preserved at Midridge Hall, in the county of Durham. 

15. The same as number 6. 

16. Fossil echini. Also known as fairy-faces. 

17. A species of agaric. The same with fairy-stools. 

18. The same as number 12. 

19. A kind of fungus, vulgo a fuz-ball. The same with pixy-puffs. 

20. The purging flax, Linum cathartic um. The same with fairy- 

21. The flower of the fox-glove, which name is said to come from 
fairy-folks-glove. My friend, Mr. Hardy, of Penmanshiel, says " the 
word is from the A.S. foxesclifc, foxeclofe, foxesglofa, foxesglofe, and 
has no reference to fairies." 

22. Perhaps fox-glove bells. 

23. Fossil sea-urchins. 

24. The ignis fatuus was anciently called elf-fire. An old tract 
bears the title " Ignis Fatuus, or the Elf-fire of Purgatorie," etc. 
4to. London, 1625. 

25. The same as note cloven. 

26. Waldron tells us of a Fairy Saddle in the Isle of Man which 
tho natives believed to be in requisition every night. It was a stone 
in the likeness of a saddle — Works, fol., p. 176. 

27. Luminous appearances oft seen on clothes by night ; also 
called shell-fire. See Ray's E. and S. Country Words. 

28. Mushrooms. 

29. The domestic hand-mills of the Romans. 

Also the sound made by the wood-worm viewed by the vulgar as 
prctcr-natural. [" The wood-worm is the small brown beetle. — 
Anobium domesticum."—J. H.] 

30. Kidney beans. 



31, 32. Scenes bearing one or other of these names are by no 
means rare either in the north or south of England. 

33. A Fairykirk occurs in the parish of Caldbeck, Cumberland. 

34. Mythical horns occur in several fairy tales. 

35. The same as note 9. 

36. The same as note 20. 

37. Found treasure. See note 10. 

38. The same with numbers 12 and 18, I believe. There is a 
curious superstitions account of one in MS. 4811, f. 23. 

39. See note 16. 

40. A local name for certain old coins. See Harrison's Hist. Eng., 
p. 218. 

41. A kind of fungus. 

42. Natural knots in the manes of horses. 

43. Toadstools. 

44. Certain marks on women with child, or women that do give 
suck. For a curious account thereof see Ady's Candle in the Dark, 
p. 129. Shakespeare uses the expression elvish marked. 

45. Natural caves. Occasionally rocks, somewhat isolated, assum- 
ing that form. 

46. Natural caves in the earth. 

47. Stone beads. 

48. A common corn weed is so-called in Sussex. [In Hampshire, 
" Puck-needle " is the name given to Scandix Pecten- Veneris. See 
Wright's Provincial Dictionary.] 

49. The wood-louse. " Cheeselyff-wormc, otherwyse called Eobyn 
Godfelowe his louse, tylus." Huolet, 1552, part i. p. 6. [This 
wood-louse is a species of Oniscus.] 

50. The same, I believe, with note 21. 

51. See Hone's Tear Book, col. 1533-4. 

52. The glow-worm. [Lampyris noctiluca.] 

53. In the shady stillness of a summer's eve fairies took delight in 
bathing and sporting amongst the waters of a lonely pool or sedgy 
bsn4 of some rippling brook. In some parts of the county of 
Northamptonshire there are ponds which from this circumstance 
receive the name of fairy-pools. 

54. A hole in a piece of wood, out of which a knot has dropped, 


or been driven, by the superstitious viewed as the operation of the 

55. A species of stone-hatchet. 

56. This grand annual festival occurred on the first day of May. 

57. See Waldron's Isle of Man, p. 72. 

58. The paralysis is, or rather perhaps was, so called. 

59. Wednesday is the fairies' Sabbath or holiday. 

60. A changeling. These children were little, backward of their 
tongue, and seemingly idiots. 

I 2 



Michael Scott. 

Long before Sir Walter Scott had given increased celebrity to 
the wizard feats of his clansman, Michael Scott, his fame bad 
penetrated to the remotest villages of Northumberland. Similar 
anecdotes, but somewhat varied in the telling, have been trans- 
mitted of him there, as well as in the hamlets on the northern 
side of the Borders. The versions with which Sir Walter Scott 
was acquainted are related in the notes to the Lay of the Last 
Minstrel. The following are what I once obtained from Michael 
M., who had heard them, when living as a young man in the 
Hexham district. The Northumbrians call the magician 
Mitchell Scott, and my informant's master used jocularly to 
address him as " Mitchell Scott, the devil's piper." 

Mitchell Scott was on one occasion crossing the sea on the 
devil's back, and when they were half way over the devil cun- 
ningly asked him what the good wives in Scotland said in the 
morning when they rose. Mitchell wrothfully shouted " Mount, 
devil, and flee ! " If he had replied, " God bless us a' this 
morning," he would have been drowned. 

The fame of Mitchell is great in that district for having beat 
the devil and his myrmidons by the well-known device of 
employing them to spin ropes of sand, denying them even the 
aid of chaff to supply some degree of tenacity to the incohesive 


In modern times he might have adapted their motive power 
to some serviceable purposes, but it is firmly believed that even 
in those dark ages some utilitarian ideas for human comfort or 
preservation had crossed his mind ; for did he not occupy them 
in erecting the Roman Wall, the whole of which they accom- 
plished in one night ? 

" Watling Street in many places of England is called 
Mitchell Scott's Causeway, and it is believed by the credulous 
vulgar there that the devil and his friend Mitchell made it in 
one night." * In Stirlingshire also the military causeway and 
other Koman works are sometimes ascribed to Michael Scott, f 
In Fifeshire Michael's emissaries cut a roadway through a hill. J 
Michael Scott was desirous to have a road through a marshy 
piece of country called Cunninghamhead, in Ayrshire. He 
ordered the devil to execute this task. Vestiges of that road 
are to be seen to this day.§ Mr. Longstaffe thinks it possible 
that Michael Scott may be commemorated in " Scot's Corner, 
near Catterick, and Scot's Dike in Northumberland." || Mr. 
Denham wrote me that he had seen somewhere in print that 
"the devil and Mitchell Scott built the Eoman Wall jointly, 
and that they completed the work in a fortnight." 

He was also consulted as an engineer to render shallow rivers 
capable of floating ships of burden up to quiet inland towns, 
whose inhabitants envied the seaports, the flow of traffic cease- 
lessly pouring through their crowded streets, to the general 
enrichment, as they thought, of the entire community. Of tin's 

* Ure's Hist, of Rutherglen, p. 133. 
•j" Nimmo's Hist, of Stirlingshiae, p. 82. 
| Blair's Rambling Recollections, p. 118. 
§ Mitchell and Dickie's Philosophy of Witchcraft, p. 290. 
|| " Durham before the Conquest," in Memoirs of Archmolog. 
Instit. Xorthd., i. p. 58. 


we have an instance in that well-written little book, Chatto's 
Rambles in Northumberland (pp. 47 and 48), which has been 
largely drawn upon by subsequent writers on Northumbrian 
Folklore. The River Wansbeck " discharges itself into the sea 
at a place called Cambois, about nine miles to the eastward, and 
the tide flows to within five miles of Morpeth. Tradition reports 
that Michael Scott, whose fame as a wizard is not confined to 
Scotland, would have brought the tide to the town had not the 
courage of the person failed upon whom the execution of this 
project depended. This agent of Michael, after his principal 
had performed certain spells, was to run from the neighbourhood 
of Cambois to Morpeth without looking behind, and the tide 
would follow him. After having advanced a certain distance he 
became alarmed by the roaring of the waters behind him, and, 
forgetting the injunction, gave a glance over his shoulder to see 
if the danger was imminent, when the advancing tide imme- 
diately stopped, and the burgesses of Morpeth thus lost the 
chance of having the Wansbeck navigable between their town 
and the sea. It is also said that Michael intended to confer a 
similar favour on the inhabitants of Durham by making the 
Wear navigable to their city ; but his good intentions, which 
were to be carried into effect in the same manner, were also 
frustrated through the cowardice of the person who had to 
' guide the tide.' " 

" Michael Scott," says Sir Walter Scott, " like his pre- 
decessor Merlin, fell at last a victim to female art. His wife, or 
concubine, elicited from him the secret that his art could ward 
off any clanger except the poisonous qualities of broth made of 
the flesh of a breme sow. Such a mess she accordingly adminis- 
tered to the wizard, who died in consequence of eating it, 
surviving, however, long enough to put to death his treacherous 
confidant." (Note 2 E to Lay of Last Minstrel.) The North- 
umbrian statement is more circumstantial, and gives a reverse 


turn to the event. Mitchell having told his wife that nothing 
was more poisonous than the boiled flesh of a breeming sow, 
she faithlessly took advantage of the confidence reposed in her 
by preparing for him a dish of the deleterious article, of 
which he heartily partook. Growing deadly sick, he sus- 
pected her infidelity, and ascertaining what she had done, he 
made inquiry of what had become of the " broo," or water in 
which it was cooked, for this was the only remedy to counteract 
the poison. The wife had thrown it out, but being shown the 
place where this had been done, he drank out of the hollow 
made by a cow's foot sufficient to allay the baneful effects. He 
punished his wicked spouse by causing two eggs to be roasted 
and put fire-hot below her arm-pits, her arms being tied down. 
She was thus, in a most cruel manner, " burnt to death, the 
heat reaching to her heart." 

Thomas the Rhymek. 

Thomas Rhymer's name is equally well known in North- 
umberland with that of his wonder-working countryman 
Michael Scott, but I could not recover any more of his say- 
ings than a rhymed couplet of some popular version of his 
prophetic utterances : 

" When Low Sunday falls on May Day, 
Thomas the Rhymer has nae mair to say." 

The author of Cheviot, a Fragment, by E. W., seats the 
dim form of the seer upon a grey crag among the gloomy and 
often mist-shrouded windings of Dunsdale, which includes as 
one of its forks Bizzle or Baizle, the highest and most pictur- 
esque range of rocks on the great Cheviot. 

'' Then came to Dunsdale on the mountain's side, 
Which never yet the sun's bright eye espy'd, 


A dismal den, black as the mouth of hell. 

Here once, they say, did frightful spirits dwell ; 

Now dead or bound, or sunk much deeper down, 

Or domineer where Jesus is not known. 

Damp streams, gross darkness, and a troubled air, 

Stay yet — 

Whilst we look on we are with horror seiz'd, 

Yet seem with the delusion to be pleas'd. 

Here about Lermot sat, who cou'd not climb, 

And was contented with mysterious rhyme ; 

Ne'er was nor ever will be understood, 

And therefore by the most accounted good." * 

Thomas Pringle, the poet, seats not " True Thomas," but the 
" mountain spirit," upon the Hanging Stone. This rock is also 
on the Cheviots, but further round on the north side, looking 
towards Scotland. It acquired this name, it is said, from the cir- 
cumstance that a packman was once resting upon it, with his 
burden of cloth too near the edge, when the pack slipped over, 
and its belt tightening round his neck, strangled him, The 
same thing happened to a robber who was carrying off a stolen 
sheep, both man and sheep being hanged. It is thus peculiarly 
adapted for the seat of an unearthly being : 

" For there the mountain spirit still 
Lingers around the lonely hill, 
To guard his wizard grottoes hoar 
Where Cimbrian sages dwelt of yore ; 
Or, shrouded in his robes of mist, 
Ascends the mountain's shaggy breast, 
To seize his fearful seat — upon 
The elf-enchanted Hanging Stone." f 

* Cheviot, by R. W., edited by John Adamson, 1817, pp. 40, 41. 
\ Pringle's Poetical Works, p. 119, London, 1839. • 



The Hunter and his Hounds : a Legend of Brinkburn. 

Under a grassy swell, which a stranger may know by its 
being surrounded with a wooden railing, on the outside of 
Brinkburn Priory, tradition affirms there is a subterraneous 
passage, of which the entrance remains as yet a secret, leading 
to an apartment to which access is in like manner denied ; 
and as these visionary dwellings are invariably provided with 
occupants, it is asserted that a hunter who had in some way 
offended one of the priors was along with his hounds, by the 
aid of enchantment, condemned to perpetual slumber in that 
mysterious abode. Only once was an unenthralled mortal 
favoured with a sight of the place and of those who are there 
entombed alive. A shepherd, with his dog attending him, was 
one day listlessly sauntering on this verdant mound, when he 
felt the ground stirring beneath him, and springing aside he 
discovered a flat door, where door had never before been seen 
by man — yea, that door opening upwards of its own accord on 
the very spot where he had been standing. Actuated by curi- 
osity he descended a number of steps which appeared beneath 
him, and on reacbing the bottom found himself in a gloomy 
passage of great extent. Groping along this warily, he at last 
encountered a door, which opening readily, he along with the 
dog was suddenly admitted into an apartment illumined so 
brilliantly that the full light of day seemed to shine there. This 


abrupt transition from darkness to light for some minutes 
deprived him of the power of observing objects correctly, but 
gradually recovering he beheld enough to strike him with 
astonishment, for on one side at a table, with his head resting 
on his hand, slept one in the garb of a hunter, while at some 
distance another figure reclined on the floor with his head lying 
back, and around him lay many a noble hound, ready as ever 
to all appearance to renew that fatal chase which consigned 
them all to the chamber of enchantment. On the table lay a 
horn and a sword, which, seeing all was quiet, the shepherd 
stepped forward to examine, and taking up the horn first 
applied it to his lips to sound it ; but the hunter, on whom he 
kept a watch, showed symptoms of awaking whenever he made 
the attempt, which alarming him he replaced it, and the figure 
started no longer. Reassured, he lifts the sword, half draws it, 
and now both men became restless and made some angry 
movements, and the hounds began to hustle about, while his 
own dog, as if agitated by the same uneasiness, slunk towards 
the door. Alive to the increased commotion and hearing a 
noise behind him very like the creaking of hinges, he suddenly 
turned round and found to his dismay that the door was moving 
to. Without waiting a moment he rushed through the half- 
closed entrance followed by his dog. He had not fled ten paces 
when, shaking the vault with the crash, the door shut behind 
him, and a terrible voice assailed his ears pouring maledictions 
on him for his temerity. The fugitives traversed the passage 
at full speed, and gladly hailed the light streaming in at the 
aperture above. The shepherd quickly ascended the steps, but 
before he got out the cover had nearly closed. He succeeded, 
and that was all, in escaping perhaps a worse fate than those 
victims of monkish thraldom which he had just left ; but his 
poor dog was not so fortunate, for it had just raised its fore- 
parts to come up when the door fastened on it and nipped it 
through ! 


This story, being a family inheritance of the European race of 
people, has obtained a wide circulation, and there are many 
modes of telling it, answerable to the far separated localities to 
which it has been adapted. We recognise it in the banished 
Saturn reposing in a cave on a remote desolate coast (1) ; in 
the Seven Sleepers of Epliesus (2) ; in the seven foreign 
brethren, in Bom an habits, lying in a profound slumber in a 
cave on the shores of the ocean in the extreme northern confines 
of Germany (3) ; in the three founders of the Helvetic Con- 
federacy, whom herdsmen call the Three Tells, who sleep in 
their antique garb till Switzerland's hour of need, in a cavern 
near the lake of Lucerne (4) ; in Ogier the Dane, or Holger 
Danske, enchanted in the vaults of the Castle of Cronen- 
burgh (5) ; in Frederick Barbarossa, miraculously preserved to 
unite the Eastern and Western Empires in the Kylfhauser 
Berg in Thuringia, or, according to another legend, in 
the Untersberg, near Salsburg (6), but in the latter 
place the tradition vacillates betwixt him and the great 
Emperor Charles V. (7) ; and in the legend of the 
tomb of Bosencreutz, as told in the 379th number of 
the Spectator. Transferred to Britain, it has peopled the 
mountain and sea-side caves with enchanted warriors and 
huntsmen. In the subsequent notice will be found the parallel 
tales of " King Arthur and Sewingshields." The story crops 
out in the tale of the "Wizard's Cave" at Tynemouth (8). 
The correct legend about Dunstanborough Castle, tells that its 
chieftain was charmed with his hounds, his sword, and bugle- 

(1) Plutarch. (2) Gibbon. (3) Paulus Diaconus de Gestis Lonrjo- 
bardum, lib. i. c. 4 ; Olaus Magnus Historia de Gentibus Septentrion- 
ulilius; Romce, 1555, lib. i. c. 3. (4) Mrs. Hemans' Works, ii. p. 65 ; 
Quarterly Review, March, 1820. (5) Inglis's Journey through Nor- 
way, Sweden, and Denmark, pp. 290, 291; Quarterly Review, ubi sup. 

(6) Menzel's History of Germany, i. p. 487 ; Quarterly Review, 1820. 

(7) Kcightlej's Fairy Mythology, p. 234. (8) Hone's Table Book, 


horn, and enclosed in one of the vaults of that ancient for- 
tress (9), the adjuncts of Monk Lewis, Service, and others 
being imaginary. At Fastcastle the adventurer comes out a 
hoary-headed man, minus his coat tails. In the Cheviots the 
cave contains " three men in armour," surrounded with their 
"hounds, hawks, and horses "(10). Sir Walter Scott in an 
early poem makes them an army assembled to aid Halbert Kerr, 
by the spells of Sir Michael Scott (11). Sometimes they are to 
return with Thomas of Ercildoune, and meanwhile remain 
entranced within the chambers of -the Eildon hills (12). The 
vault at Eoslin holds alive a warrior who may be approached 
every seven years, and the difficulty to free him here, as well as 
elsewhere, depends on the choice of the horn or the sword. 
Thomas the Rhymer, with a mighty host, lies asleep under 
Tom-na-hurich, a mountain near Inverness. 

" Beside each coal-black courser sleeps a knight, 
A raven plume waves o'er each helmed crest, 
And black the mail which binds each manly breast; 
Girt with broad faulchion, and with bugle green, 
Say, who is he, with summons strong and high, 
That bids the charmed sleep of ages fly, 
While each dark warrior rouses at the blast, 
His horn, his faulchion grasps with mighty hand, 
And peals proud Arthur's march from Fairy-land ! " 

Ley den* 

ii. pp. 747-750. (9) Widdrington, a Tale of Hedgley Moor, by 
James Hall, p. 84 ; Alnwick, 1827. (10) Poems by Robert David- 
son of Morebattle, p. 172. (11) Lockhart's Life of Sir Walter 
Scott, i. p. 310, &c. (12) Scott's Demonology, p. 133, where a 
similar story is cited from Eeginald Scott's Discovery of Witchcraft ; 
Leyden's Poetical Remains, p. 357. 

* For more on this subject see Kelly's Indo-European Tradition 
and Folklore, pp. 284-289, and not consulted when the above was 
written in 1864 ; also Campbell's Popular Tales of the West High- 
lands, iv. p. 85. 


Legends of Kino Annum and of Sewingshields. 

On this subject I have already written in the Local Historian's 
Table Book, Leg. Div., ii. pp. 37-46, and this might be thought 
to be sufficient, but the preceding illustration would not be 
complete without the corresponding native versions of the 
legend being placed in juxtaposition with it. 

Sewingshields lies between the Roman Wall and the military- 
road, near the twenty-eighth mile stone from Newcastle, and at 
the western extremity of Warden Parish. Of Sewingshields 
Castle, Mr. Hodgson informs us that in his time a square, 
low, lumpy mass of ruins, overgrown with nettles, still remained. 
" Its site is on the end of a dry ridge and overlooked from the 
south by the basaltic cliffs, along the brow of which the Roman 
Wall was built. There are also some traces of trenches near 
it." * This is the castle reforred to by Sir Walter Scott in the 
sixth canto of Harold the Dauntless as the " castle of the 
seven shields." In reference to its present condition Dr. 
Bruce remarks,! " Too truly he says: 

' No towers are seen 
On the wild heath, but those that Fancy builds. 
And save a fosse that tracks the moor with green, 
Is nought remains to tell of what may there have been.' " 

" It stood in the centre of the only patch of ground in ' the 
moss/ which is now subjected to the plough. The walls have 
been uprooted and the vaults removed, but the following 
tradition relating to it will not readily perish." f 

" Immemorial tradition has asserted that King Arthur, his 

* Hodgson's History of Korthumbtrland, part ii. vol. iii. 
f Wallet-Booh of the Roman Wall, p. 109. 
% Ibid. 


queen Guenever, his court of lords and ladies, and his hounds, 

were enchanted in some cave of the crags, or in a hall below 

the Castle of Sewingshields, and would continue entranced there 

till some one should first blow a bugle-horn that lay on a table 

near the entrance of the hall, and then with ' the sword of the 

stone ' cut a garter also placed there beside it. But none had 

ever heard where the entrance to this enchanted hall was till 

the farmer at Sewingshields, about fifty years since, was sitting 

knitting on the ruins of the castle and his clew fell and ran 

downwards through a rush of briars and nettles, as he supposed, 

into a deep subterranean passage. Full in the faith that the 

entrance into King Arthur's hall was now discovered, he cleared 

the briary portal of its weeds and rubbish, and entering a vaulted 

passage followed, in his darkling way, the thread of his clew. 

The floor was infested with toads and lizards; and the dark 

wings of bats, disturbed by his unhallowed intrusion, flitted 

fearfully around him. At length his sinking courage was 

strengthened by a dim, distant light, which as he advanced 

grew gradually brighter, till at once he entered a vast and 

vaulted hall, in the centre of which a fire without fuel, from 

a broad crevice in the floor, blazed with a high and lambent 

flame that showed all the carved walls and fretted roof, and the 

monarch and his queen and court reposing around in a theatre 

of thrones and costly couches. On the floor, beyond the fire, 

lay the faithful and deep-toned pack of thirty couple of hounds ; 

and on a table before it the spell-dispelling horn, sword, and 

garter. The shepherd reverently but firmly grasped the sword, 

and as he drew it leisurely from its rusty scabbard the eyes of 

the monarch and his courtiers began to open, and they rose till 

they sat upright. He cut the garter ; and as the sword was 

being slowly sheathed the spell assumed its ancient power, and 

they all gradually sank to rest ; but not before the monarch had 

lifted up his eyes and hands and exclaimed : 


' woe betide that evil day 
On which this witless wight was born, 
Who drew the sword — the garter cut, 
But never blew the bugle-horn I ' 

" Of this favourite tradition the most remarkable variation is 
respecting the place where the farmer descended. Some say 
that after the king's denunciation terror brought on a loss of 
memory, and he was unable to give any correct account of his 
adventure or the place where it occurred. But all agree that 
Mrs. Spearman, the wife of another and more recent occupier 
of the estate, had a dream, in which she saw a rich hoard of 
treasure among the ruins of the castle, and that for many days 
together she stood over workmen employed in searching for it, 
but without success." * 

Mr. Errington, a recent tenant, has removed the vaults 
altogether, without making any discoveries of moment. 

The version of this story that I obtained from a native of 
South Northumberland is less circumstantial, but its verity is 
not the less to be depended on. 

A shepherd one day, in quest of a strayed sheep, on the 
crags near Sewingshields, had his steps arrested by a ball of 
thread. This he laid hold of, and pursuing tho patli which it 
pointed out, found it led into a cavern, in the recesses of which, 
as the guiding line used by miners in their explorations of 
devious passages, it appeared to lose itself. As he approached 
ho felt perforce constrained to follow the strange conductor 
that had so marvellously come into his hands. After passing 
through a long and dreary vestibule he wa9 ushered into an 
apartment in the interior. An immense fire blazed on the 
liearlh, and cast its broad flashes to the remotest corner of the 

Hodgson's History of Northumberland, part ii. vol. iii. p. 287. 


chamber. Over it was placed a huge cauldron, as if pre- 
parations were being made for a feast on an extensive scale. 
Two hounds lay on either side of the fireplace, in the stillness 
of unbroken slumber. The only remarkable piece of furniture 
in the apartment was a table, covered with green cloth. At 
the head of the table, a being considerably advanced in years, 
of a dignified mien, and clad in the habiliments of war, sat, 
as it were, fast asleep in an arm-chair. At the other end of 
the table lay a horn and a sword. Notwithstanding these signs 
of life, throughout the chamber there prevailed a dead silence, 
the very feeling of which made the shepherd reflect that he had 
advanced beyond the limits of human experience, and that he 
was now in the j>resence of objects that belonged more to death 
than to life ! The very idea made his flesh creep. He, how- 
ever, had the fortitude left to advance to the table and lift the 
horn. The hounds pricked up their ears, and the grisly veteran 
" started up on his elbow," and raising his half unwilling eyes, 
told the staggered hind that if he would blow the/horn and 
draw the sword he would confer upon him the honours of 
knighthood, to last through time. But such unheard-of dig- 
nities from a source so ghastly either met with no apjwejjiation 
from the awe-stricken swain, or the terror of finding himself 
alone in the company, it might be, of malignant phantoms, 
who were only tempting him to his ruin, became too urgent 
to be resisted, and therefore proposing to divide the peril with 
a comrade, he groped his darkling way, as best his quaking limbs 
could support him, back to the blessed daylight. On his return 
with a reinforcement of strength and courage every vestige 
of the opening of a cavern was obliterated. Thus failed another 
of the repeated opportunities for releasing the spell -bound King 
of Britain from the " charmed sleep of ages." Within his 
rocky chamber he still sleeps on, as tradition tells, till the 
appointed hour. 


Of the " Castle of the Seven Shields," thus Sir Walter Scott 
sings : 

" Seven monarchs' wealth in that castle lie stow'd, 
The foul fiends brood o'er them like raven and toad, 
Whoever shall question these chambers within, 
From curfew till matins that treasure shall win. 

But manhood grows faint as the world waxes old ! 
There lives not in Britain a champion so bold, 
So dauntless of heart and so prudent of brain, 
As to dare the adventure that treasure to gain. 

The waste ridge of Cheviot shall wave with the rye, 
Before the rude Scots shall Northumberland fly, 
And the flint cliffs of Bambro' shall melt in the sun, 
Before that adventure be peril'd and won." * 

One more local tradition of King Arthur is told by Dr. 
Bruce: " To the north of Sewingshields, two strata of sandstone 
crop out to the day ; the highest points of each ledge are called 
the King and Queen's Crag, from the following legend. King 
Arthur, seated on the furthest rock, was talking with his queen, 
who, meanwhile, was engaged in arranging her ' back hair.' 
Some expression of the queen's having offended his majesty, ho 
seized a rock which lay near him, and with an exertion of 
strength for which the Picts were proverbial, threw it at her, 
a distance of about a quarter of a mile ! The queen with great 
dexterity caught it upon her comb, and thus warded off the 
blow ; the stone fell between them, where it lies to this very 
day, with the marks of the comb upon it, to attest the truth of 
the story. It probably weighs about twenty tons.' " f 

* Harold the Dauntless, canto iv. " The Legend of Shewin 
Shields " has been made the subject of a poem by James Service. He 
makes the hero of the adventure a sort of Kip van Winkle. — Metrical 
Legends of Northumberland, Alnwick, 1834, Svo., pp. 124, 139. 

t Wallet-Book of the Roman Wall, pp. 110, 111. 



" Near the farmhouse of Sewingshiels," says Mr. Hodgson, 
" several basaltic columns rose very proudly and remai-kably in 
the front of the high and rugged cliff that the wall had 
traversed, and one of these in particular was called by some 
King Arthur, and by others King ' Ethel's ' chair. It was a 
single, many-sided shaft, about ten feet high, and had a natural 
seat on its top, like a chair with a bach, but was most wantonly 
overturned a few years since by a mischievous lad." A variety 
of other curule seats of ancient monarchs existed till recently in 
various parts of the country. On a rock which overhung the 
Maiden Well at Wooler, and on the precipitous margin of the 
Maiden Gamp, was a natural chair called the " King's Seat," . 
whereon a king sat and viewed his army lighting in the 
cramped-up hollow beneath ; for, adds the legend, it " was the 
custom for kings in those days to sit." This rocky throne has 
unfortunately been quarried away. A similar chair exists on 
Twinlaw, one of the Lammermoor range, in Berwickshire — a 
hill celebrated in the traditionary annals of fraternal discord.* 
The unfortunate James IV. of Scotland occupied a kindred 
position during a part of the fatal day of Flodden Field, and 
posterity, with true attachment to a theme so melancholy, till 
recently offered to the passing stranger's gaze the King's 
Chair. " It is," or rather was, says Wallis {History of North- 
umberland, ii. p. 471), "a natural rock, on the highest part of 
Flodden Hill, from which he had a good view of his own and 
of the English army, and of the country around him." This is 
also now quarried away. Arthur's seat, near Edinburgh, has 
also its tradition of this class. There is a hill called King's 
Seat about the head of Breamish, between the Hanging Stone 
and Bussell's Cairn ; and a King's Seat also in the Lammer- 

* New Statistical Account of Scotland, Berwickshire, p. 93. The 
information about the chair is from oral testimony. 


moors of East Lothian. But on this subject it would be 
prosaic to insist. It has been " married to immortal verse": 

" A king sate on the rocky brow 
Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis ; 
And ships, by thousands, lay below, 
And men in nations — all were bis ! 
He counted them at break of day — 
And when the sun set where were they ? " 


In South Africa it is a chieftain's ambition that he should be 
seated aloft on a crag. Moshosh leading the Basutos to take 
vengeance on the Mantaetis, a neighbouring tribe, addresses 
them : " To-morrow, brothers, you will have reconquered for 
mo yonder high rook, whereon the Mantaeti sits at ease ; you 
will offer it mo for my seat, mine." The army hissed its 
applause, crying, " Thou shall sit, thou shalt sit on the rock, 
King." * 

In some instances these eminences may have been judgment- 
seats of ancient courts. On Kyle Hill, in the parish of Clonfert 
Mulloe, in Queen's County, Leinster, " is an ancient judgment- 
seat of the Brehons, formed in the solid rock, called by the 
peasantry hero the " Fairy-chair." This was the tribunal of the 
Brehon of the Fitzpatricks." f Saints also had their memorial 
seats on hills. The hill on the south side of Kilcattan Bay is 
called Suid Chattan, or St. Cattail's Seat, and the hill on the 
farm of South Garrachtie (both being in Bute) is called 
Suidh Bhlain, or St. Blane's Seat.J If we consult Camden's 
Britannia, it will bo found that these mountain seats are quite 

* Good Words, 180l», p. 2S4. 

f Gorton's Topographical Dictionary of Great Britain and Ireland, 
p. 4luS. 

{ Wilson's Guide to Rothesay, p. 133. Rothesay, 1848. 



The Bells of Brinkbukx. 

Centuries ago one of the priors of Brinkburn presented the 
bells of that building to the priory of Durham. They had been 
the pride of the secluded sanctuary on the Coquet, for their 
tones were possessed of great power combined with sweetness, 
and many tempting offers had Durham made to secure them, 
but hitherto to no purpose. But she prevailed at length, and 
the bells so coveted were removed from the tower and dispatched 
on horseback on their way to Durham under the care of some 
monks. They journeyed till they reached the River Font, 
which, owing to a quantity of rain having fallen, was much 
swelled. However, they prepared to ford it ; but when the 
horses reached the middle of the stream the bells by some means 
fell, or, according to the popular belief, were removed from the 
backs of the horses by miraculous interposition, and sank to the 
bottom. Owing either to the dangerous state of the stream or 
from the bells being unwilling to be removed, the exertions of 
the monks to recover them proved unavailing ; so they returned 
to Brinkburn and reported the disaster. But the Brinkburn prior, 
determined not to be baffled, sent forthwith a messenger to 
Durham to request the presence of his brother prior, and both 
ecclesiastics then proceeded with a full attendance to liberate 
the imprisoned bells ; and lo ! the superior abilities of high 
church functionaries over humble monks was manifest to every- 
one ; for they had no sooner ridden into the stream than the 
bells were lifted with ease; and, being conveyed to Durham, 
were lodged there in safety. To this day it is a saying in 
Coquetdale that " Brinkburn bells are heard at Durham ;" and 
Wallis, in his History of Northumberland, assures us that 
the bells of Brinkburn were removed to the cathedral on the 
banks of the Wear. Still there are doubters. Walter White, 
in 1859, says " the deep pool where the bells were lost is still to 


bo seen in the river" [Coquet] (13); and Mr. Wilson is 
positive that some years ago " a fragment of the bell was found 
buried at the root of a tree on the hill on the opposite side of 
the river" (14). 

Of the bells, William Howitt, in his Visit to Remarkable 
Places, fyc, p. 523, note, says: "The bell tower looks down 
upon the Bell Pool, a very deep part of the Coquet, lying con- 
cealed beneath the thick foliage of the native trees that jut out 
from the interstices of the lofty, craggy heights, impending 
over either side. Tradition says that into this pool the bells 
were thrown in a time of danger in order to place them beyond 
the reach of the invading Scots. It is still a favourite amuse- 
ment among the young swimmers of the neighbourhood to dive 
for the bells of Brinkburn, and then it is generally believed that 
when the bells are found other treasures will be recovered with 

I fear that several of the tales of" flitted" bells are popular 
myths. Thus tradition says that the bell of Coldingham Abbey 
was transported to Lincoln, and is still there (15). It was a 
popular opinion that the bells of Jedburgh Abbey were lost in 
the Tweed opposite Kelso, in an attempt made to ferry them 
across. " Another tradition is that they were carried off 
to Hexham, and fitted up to adorn the venerable cathedral 
there " (16). 

Of the bells of the abbey of Cambuskenneth, in Clackmannan- 
shire, it is reported that one was for some time in the town of 
Stirling, but that the finest was lost in its passage across tho 
River Forth (17). The Bell of Morven Church had been 

(13) Northumberland and the Border, p. 197. (14) Berwickshire Nat. 
Club's Proc, iv. p. 140. (15) Fullarton's Gazetteer of Scotland, i. 
1>. 290. Hunter's Coldingham Priory, p. 75. (16) Hilson's Guide 
to Jedburgh, p. 15. (17) Fullarton's Gazetteer, i. p. 233. 


transferred from Iona (18). There is a tradition that St. Muree 
used to preach at a place called Ashig, on the north-east coast 
of the Isle of Skye, " and that he hung a bell in a tree, where it 
remained for centuries. It was dumb all the week till sunrise 
on Sunday morning, when it rang of its own accord till sunset. 
Itwas subsequently removed to the old church of Strath, dedicated 
to another saint, where it ever afterwards remained dumb, and 
the tree on which it had so long hung after withered away "(19)- 
Bells were sometimes not satisfied with their new positions. 
They required to be tied till they were reconciled to the change. 
Many of them, says Brand, " are said to have retained great 
affection for the churches to which they belonged and where 
they were consecrated. When a bell was removed from its 
original and favourite situation, it was sometimes supposed to 
take a nightly trip to its old place of residence, unless exercised 
in the evening and secured with a chain or rope " (20). 

The tolling of the bell of Brinkburn Priory was once the 
occasion of the burning of the pile by a party of marauding 
Scots, who would not have discovered its situation, so densely it 
stood embosomed in woods, except for this imprudence (21). 

Mr. Wilson says the fairies lie buried at Brinkburn. This 
mortality, unheard of elsewhere, must have been attributable to 
the potency of the bells. Half a century ago the bell of the 
parish kirk of Hounam, in Boxburghshire, fell ; in consequence 
of which the banished fairies reassembled from the ends of the 
earth to resume their revelry on the green banks of the Kale. 
But the mischief that they perpetrated was insufferable, and as 
a remedy the bell was reinstated, when matters were restored 

(18) Dr. N. M'Leod, in Good Words, 1863, p. 837. (19) Dr. 
W. Beeves on " Moelrubha," in Proceed, of Society of Antiquaries 
of Scotland, vol. iii. p. 201. (20) Brand's Pop. Antiq., ii. 136. 
(21) Richardson's Table-Booh, Leg. Div., i. p. 223. 


in statu quo ante (22). This is true to the general belief about 
these beings. " There is a hill near Botna, in Sweden, in 
which formerly dwelt a troll, a sort of Scandinavian fairy. 
When they got up bells in Botna Church, and he heard the 
ringing of them, he is related to have said : 

' Pleasant it were in Botnahill to dwell, 
Wore it not for the sound of that plaguey bell.' 

It is said that a farmer having found a troll sitting very dis- 
consolate on a stone near Tiis lake, in the island of Zealand, 
and taking him at first for a decent Christian man, accosted him 
with, ' Well ! where are yon going, friend ? ' ' Ah ! ' said ho, 
in a melancholy tone, 'I am going off out the country. I 
cannot live hero any longer, they keep such eternal ringing and 
dinging !'" (23). 

Hid Treasure. 

In the South of Scotland " it is believed that there is con- 
cealed at Tamleuchar Cross, in Selkirkshire, a valuable treasure, 
of which the situation is thus vaguely described in a popular 

rhyme : 

' Atwcen the wat grund and the dry, 

The gowd o' Tamleuchar doth lie ' " (24). 

A correspondent thus writes : " Before the old kirk of Hutton 
(I think more than twenty years since) was taken down, a man 
from about Newcastle, who professed to be a money-finder, 
cainc down to Hutton and gave out that there was a large sum 
of money concealed under a stone a few yards from the church. 
He actually commenced operations in quest of it, but soon 
decamped and was no more heard of. This is the only instance, 
and a very recent one, that I can remember of a money search 
in Berwickshire." 

(•2-2) DavidWs/V/rt*, pp. 100, &c, 222, 223. (23) Keightley's 
Fair y Mythology, p. 112. (24) Chambers's Pop. Rhymes, p. 240. 


The following Irish formula furnishes another example of the 
singularly systematic consistency in the observances prescribed 
for such adventures : " You know the rock beside your mother's 
cabin ; in the east end of that rock there is a loose stone, 
covered over with grey moss, just two feet below the cleft out 
of which the hanging rowan tree grows ; pull that stone out and 
you will find more gold than would make a duke. Neither 
speak to any person, nor let any living thing touch your lips 
till you come back " (25). 

It is to be hoped that there are now few who regard these 
stories otherwise than as exploded fictions of the days gone by. 
But if believers in them there are any, it would be lost labour to 
expostulate with them for being under an infatuation; they would 
not, like the Arab sheik, be convinced, even by the oath of their 
own brother. " Osman," said he, " I would not believe it if 
that brother had sworn it. I know there is treasure in the 
Wady Moussa ; I have dug for it, and I mean to dig for it 
again (26). 


The Rev. John Horsley in his Materials for the History of 
Northumberland, gathered in 1729-30, and printed by the 
late Mr. Hodgson Hinde, says, " The stories of fairies seem now 
to be much worn both out of date and out of credit." This is, 
however, incorrect, so far as regards country people, long after 
Horsley's time. An old man once said to me that in the part 
of Northumberland where he dwelt there was a time when there 
was not a solitary hawthorn tree away out on the green hills, 
standing amid its circuit of fine cropped grass, that was not 

(25) Oai-leton's Three Tasks, &c, p. 90. (26) Stephens' Travels 
in Egypt, &c, chap, 22. 


witness to the fairy revel and dance held beneath its encircling 
branches in the twilight or by the pale light of the moon. The 
Northumbrian fairies, numerous as they were, had been once a 
shy people, and little now can be gathered about their ongoings, 
which, however, have the same peculiarities as have been told 
of them in other favourite haunts. I shall give the few simple 
stories that I have heard as they were told to me. 

A woman had a child that was remarkably puny. It was 
voracious enough, " but put all the meat it got within an ill 
skin," and never grew any, and there were shrewd suspicions 
that it was a changeling. One day a neighbour came running 
into her house, and shouted out, " Come here, and ye'll see a 
sight ! Yonder's the Fairy Hill a' alowe." " Waes me ! what'll 
come o' my wife and bairns ? " screamed out the elf in the bed, 
and straightway made its exit up the chimney. 

A ploughman was once engaged with his team, consisting of 
two oxen and two horses, with a boy to guide them, in tilling a 
field at Humshaugli, near the North Tyne, which was reputed to 
be haunted by the fairies. While at one of the " land ends" 
he hears a great kirnin' going on, somewhere near him. Ho 
made another circuit, and listening, was aware of a doleful voice 
lamenting: " Alack- a-day I've broken my kirn-staff, what will 
I do?" "Give it to me, and I'll mend it,'" cries the good- 
natured ploughman; and on his return from the next "bout," 
he found the kirn-staff laid out for him, along with a hammer 
and nails. He carefully repaired and left it, when after making 
another turn he came back to the spot it was gone, and a 
liberal supply of bread and butter was set down in its place. 
He and the boy partook of the repast, and all the cattle had a 
share, except one ox, which resisted every effort to force the 
food upon it. Before he got to the next land's end the stubborn 
brute dropped down dead. I have heard the story told in almost 
the same manner in Berwickshire. Parallel instances of fairies 


requiring human aid to mend their utensils may be found in 
Jabez Allies, " On the Ignis Fatuus, or Will-o'-the-Wisp and 
the Fairies/'' extracted in Athenceum, 1846, p. 955 ; also 1. c. 
p. 1085. 

Mothers sometimes brought the cradle to the field in the 
harvest time and left it at the ridge end, when the little inmate 
would be liable to be exchanged for one of fairy breed. To 
deter children who gleaned behind the reapers from interfering 
with the stooks, it was customary to tell them that baits of 
" fairy butter " were placed among the sheaves, and if they 
were tempted to touch and eat it the fairies would kidnap 
them. Of " fairy butter," Mr. Denham in a letter relates : "A 
story is told here (Pierse Bridge) how that, some women going 
into the field to work rather earlier one morning than usual, 
now some fifty or sixty years ago, found as much as nearly a 
pound upon the top of a gate post, how they carefully gathered 
it into a basin, and how they each and all partook, and found 
it to be the ' nicest butther that ony o' them had iver taasted.' " 

A fairy man and woman once entrusted the up-bringing of 
one of their offspring to a man in Netherwitton. He received 
along with it a box of ointment, with which he was enjoined 
regularly to rub its eyes, but he was to be careful not to touch 
his own with it, otherwise he would incur a heavy penalty. 
Curiosity overcame his scruples, and he anointed one of his eyes 
with the ointment without experiencing any inconvenience. 
Having gone to Long Horsley fair, he saw both the man and 
woman moving about among the fair people, and thinking there 
could be no harm in it he accosted them. Surprised to be thus 
recognised, they inquired with what eye he saw thera, and he 
told them, whereupon they blew into his eye and it became 
blinded. The child was removed before his return home. 

A midwife in Northumberland was one night summoned by a 
man to go out and perform her office to a sufferer " in the 


straw," to which she consented. Mounted on horseback behind 
him, she was carried with incredible rapidity over an immense 
space to a cottage, where the woman was soon after delivered of 
a healthy child. An attendant brought to the midwife ointment 
in a box, with which she was to anoint the child all over, but 
she was to beware of putting any of it on her own eyes. In- 
voluntarily, while executing her task, she happened to draw her 
fingers across her eyes to remove some obstruction of sight, and 
immediately her eyes were opened and she saw that she was not 
in a cottage at all, but in the midst of a wild waste, where all 
the fairy population was assembled round her. She had the 
presence of mind not to betray any alarm, and having done all 
that was required, she was conveyed back to her dwelling with 
the same dispatch with which she had been taken from it. Sub- 
sequently, being at a market, she observed among the crowd 
the man and woman with whom she had formed this singular 
acquaintance, as well as other agents invisible to man, passing 
from stall to stall and purloining bits of butter and other edibles. 
She addressed them and asked them their reasons for these pro- 
ceedings. " Which eye do you see us with ? " asked they. 
" With both," said she ; and they blow into them and both 
were blinded. Of this and the previous story there arc many 

At Ohathill farm, north of Alnwick, there was a famous fairy 
ring, round which the children of the place could venture to 
dance any times less than nine. If they had exceeded the pre- 
scribed number of rounds they would have been taken away by 
the fairies. It was customary there for the fairies to lay 
" o-oodies " and presents of food for cleanly children, but when 
the parents became aware of it the practice was discontinued. 

Theso three last incidents were told me by Mr. Gr. B. 
Richardson, formerly of Newcastle, who afterwards gave a 
somewhat embellished version in the Table Book, published by 


his father, vol. iii. p. 45, &c. (Legendary Division), along with 
other examples which he has not quite carefully referred to their 
proper authorities. Having misprinted the word " fairies " as 
" faries," he induced Keightley, who quotes the stories, mis- 
takingly to suppose that in Northumberland " fairy " was 
pronounced-" farry." (Fairy Mythology, p. 310, note.) 

In a Book of Depositions and other Ecclesiastical Proceedings 
in the Courts of Durham from 1565 to 1573, we find that " the 
farye " was recognised as a disease which required for its 
treatment magical agency. Robert Duncan, of Walsend, near 
Newcastle, farmer, aged 72 years, depones: " He haithe hard 
saye that Jennet Pereson uses wytchecraft in measuringe of 
belts to preserve folks from the farye." Catherine Fenwick, 
daughter of Constance Fenwick, gentlewoman, aged about 20 
years, saith : " That about 2 yeres ago his cosyn Edward 
Wyddrington had a childe seke, and Jenkyn Pereson ['s] wyfe 
axed of Thomas Blackberd, then this deponente mother ser- 
vannte, how Byngemen (Benjamin) the child did, and bad the 
said Blackberd byd the childe's mother comme and speke with 
hir. And upon the same this deponent went unto hir, and 
the said Pereson wyfe said that the child was taken with the 
farye, and bad hir sent 2 for southrowninge (south-running) 
water, and theis 2 shull not speke by the waye, and that" the 
child shuld be washed in that water and dib the shirt in the 
water, and so hang it upon a hedge all that night, and that on 
the morowe the shirt shuld be gone, and the child shuld recover 
health : but the shirt was not gone, as she said. And this 
deponent paid to Pereson wife 3d. for hir paynes, otherwais 
she knoweth not whether she is a wytche or not" Robert 
Thompson, vicar of Benton, aged 52 years : " Dicit that he herd 
one wedo Archer doughter, called Elisabethe Gibson, saye that 
Jenkyn Pereson wyfe heled hir mother, who was taken with 
the farye, and gave hir 6d. for hir paynes, and that the said 


Jenkyn Pereson wyfe toke 3d. of Edmond Thompson for a like 
matter." * Elsewhere " the Fayrie " is accounted a peculiar 
disease, probably from its name ascribed to fairy influence. 
" For one that is stricken with the Fayrie, spread oyle de Bay 
on a linnen cloth, and lay it above the sore, for that will drive 
it into every part of the body : but if the sore be above the 
heart, apply it beneath the sore, and to the nape of the necke." f 
Again we are told, both instances no doubt translated from 
older works, " The roote and seedes (of Peony), hanged about 
the necke of children, is good against the falling sicknesse, and 
the haunting of the fairies and goblins." f 

* Depositions and other Ecclesiastical Proceedings from the Courts 
of Durham, from 1311 to the Reign of Elizabeth. (Surtees Society, 
pp. 99, 100.) 

f Langham's Garden of Health, p. 47. London, 1574. 

X lb., p. 453. See also Sussex Folkfore, in Folklore Record, 
i. p. 44, this use of the plant being still in vogue to prevent convul- 
sions and to aid dentition ; also Mr. Henderson's Folk-Lore, p. 21. 
Pliny says of Peony : " This plant is a preservative against the 
illusions practised by the Fauni in sleep," i.e. the nightmare {Nat. 
Hist., book xxv. chap. 10 ; Bonn's English edition, v. p. 89 ; Galen, 
lib. vi.). Simpl. Medio, is the author of the prescription of the roots 
being suspended round the neck as a cure for epilepsy ; and 
Matthiolus in his Commentary on Dioscorides supplies us with ,the 
figment about the seeds. " There are not wanting," says he, " old 
wives who, boring holes in the seeds of the pa;ony, string them like 
coral beads and tie them round the necks of their children, being in 
the belief that this amulet will keep off the epilepsy." P. A. 
Matthioli Commentarii in Libros P. Dioscorides, &c, pp. 594, 595. 
Yenetiis, 1570. See also Culpepper's English Physician, whence the 
popular belief is probably derived. For the connection between the 
pieony and the " Herculean disease,"' epilepsy to wit, see Cowley on 
Plants, book iii. Lovell (Htrball, p. 334) says of pwony, " It 
heals such as arc thought to be bewitcht, allaid with rue, fennel, and 


In South Northumberland a great deterrent as well as re- 
vealer of the fairies, and a preventative of their influence, was 
a " four-neuked clover" (a quadrifoil), although a " five- 
neuked " specimen (a cinquefoil) is reckoned equally efficacious. 
This I learned from the people. Mr. Chatto furnishes an 
instance. " Many years ago, a girl who lived near Nether- 
witton, returning home from milking with a pail upon her 
head, saw many fairies gamboling in the fields, but which were 
invisible to her companions, though pointed out to them by 
her. On reaching home and telling what she had seen, the 
circumstance of her poM'er of vision being greater than tbat of 
her companions was canvassed in the family, and the cause at 
length discovered in her weise,* which was found to be of four- 
leaved clover — persons having about them a bunch, or even a 
single blade, of four-leaved clover being supposed to possess 
the power of seeing fairies, even though the elves should wish 
to be invisible ; of perceiving in their proper character evil 
spirits which assumed the form of men, and of detecting the 
arts of those who practised magic, necromancy, or witchcraft." t 
Taylor, the water-poet, banters such pretenders as could cure 
diseases by charms. Among others — 

" Witli two words and three leaves of four-leav'd grass, 
He makes the tooth-ache stay, repass, or pass." 

" Half a century ago," says Mr. George Tate, in his History 
of Alnwick, i. p. 438, "the fairies were supposed to have local 
habitations in our district. There was a Fairies' Green not 
far from Vittry's Cross; but on moonlight nights these tiny 
folk trooped out of dell, and cavern, and mine, and from 

* The weise is a circular pad, commonly made of an old stocking, 
but sometimes merely a wreath of straw or grass, to save the head 
from the pressure of the pail. 

t Rambles in, Northumberland, p. 106 ; see also Napier's Folk-Lore 
in the West of Scotland, pp. 130, 132, 133. 


beneath the bracken, and from under green knowes, and out 
of oilier lonely places, to hold their revels with music and dance 
in the Fairies' Hollow at the top of Clayport Bank. Their 
favourite haunt was the Hurle Stane, near to Chillingham 
New Town, around which they danced to the sound of elfin 
music, singing : 

' Wind about and turn again, 
And thrice around the Hurle Stane ; 
Eound about and wind again, 
And thrice around the Hurle Stane.' 

" Brinkburn and Harehope Hill too they frequented. Old 
Nannie Alnwick, the widow of the last of the ancient raco of 
Alnwick, the tanners, had faith in the good folk, and set aside 
for them ' a loake of meal and a pat of butter,' receiving, as 
slie said, a double return from them ; and often had she seen 
them enter into Harehope Hill, and heard their pipe music die 
away as the green hill closed over them." 

On one occasion, while visiting Alnwick, Mr. Tate pointed 
out to me the Fairies' Hollow at the head of Clayport, and a 
series of steps, or rather little benches, caused by subsidences of 
the soil, rising in a gentle gradient to Swansfield Gate, which had 
obtained the name of the " Fairy Steps." 

The last of the fairy race are said to be interred in Brink- 
burn under a green mound. [Table Booh, Leg. Div., iii. p. 48 ; 
F. R. Wilson, Ber. Nat. Club Proc, iv. p. 145.) On Fawdon 
Hill, one of a series of low round-topped grassy eminences, was 
held the fairy court ; the Elf Hills are still pointed out near 
Cambo, and the Dancing Green at Debdon, near Rothbury ; 
the " Dancing Green Knowe," among the brown heathy-backed 
Cockcnheugh range, as well as the Dancing Hall, where stretch 
the bleak moors behind Beanie) - , still testify by their names to 
their being resorts of the "good people" for their favourite 
diversion. " Even in our own day," says Mr. Robert White 


{Table Booh, Leg. Div.,ii. pp. 131-2) "many places are pointed 
out as having formerly been the chief resorts of the elfin people. 
A small stream called the Elwin, or Allan, which falls into the 
Tweed from the north, a little above Melrose, was a noted 
locality, so also was Beaumont Water, on the north of Cheviot ; 
and the gravelly beds of both are remarkable for a kind of small 
stones of a rounded or spiral form, as if produced from the action 
of a lathe, called ' Fairy cups ' and ' dishes.' [These are con- 
cretions segregated from fine clay. I have a good series from 
the Nameless dean, on the Alwen or Elwand, but the locality 
where they were obtained is now covered up. I have also picked 
up similar fairy stones, known as such to the country people, in 
South Middleton dean among the Cheviots, and they occur in 
some of the banks on the lower course of the Tweed.] The 
chief haunt in Liddesdale was a stream which empties itself 
into the Liddell from the south, called Harden Burn. On the 
north side of the village of Grunnerton, in Northumberland, is a 
small burn, in the rocky channel of which are many curious 
perforations, called by the country people ' fairy kerns.' 
Similar indentations are likewise observed in the course of 
Hart, near Rothley. In Redesdale also the ' train ' was accus- 
tomed to dance at the Howestane-mouth, near Rochester, and 
at the Dowcraig Top, a solitary spot about a mile north of 
Otterburne." At Housesteads, by the Roman Wall, on a 
meadow once occupied by a suburb of the military station of 
Borcovicus, the fairies come from an adjacent cave for their 
moonlight dances.* To the west of the station of Vindolana, 
or Chesterholm, are the ruins of an extensive buildino- which 
has been furnished with hvpocausts. " The pillars long retained 
the marks of fire and soot, which gave rise to the popular belief 
that a colony of fairies had here established themselves, and 

* W. S. Gibson's Memoir on Northumberland, 1st edit., p. 34. 


that this was their kitchen." * There were once a " fairy- 
stone " and a " fairy trough," near Fourstanes, on the borders 
of Cumberland and Northumberland. " In the rebellion of 17 1 5, 
a square recess with a cover in the fairy stone was employed 
to receive the correspondence of the rebel chiefs, and a little 
boy clad in green came in the twilight of every evening to 
rescue the letters left in it for Lord Derwentwater and deposit 
his answers, which were ' spirited ' away in the same manner 
by the agents of his friends." f 

A number of them dwelt apart in the remotest glen of all that 
scar the sides of the Cheviot Hills, where, among a most desolate 
scene of peat hags, plashy bogs, and dashing waterfalls, up among 
grey craggy declivities, and slopes of treacherous and slippery 
boulders, is the obscure opening of a cavern called " Eelin's 
Hole," whose final termination no one has ever been able to 
reach. Into this gloomy receptacle they are said to have once 
lured a party of hunters who were in pursuit of a roe, and who 
were never able to find their way out. J 

The Rev. John Hodgson, in his History of Northumberland, 
has told the story of the fairies of Eothley Mill, in the parish of 
Hurtburn, Northumberland (part ii. vol. i. p. 305) ; both of 
his incidents have been transferred to Richardson's Table Book, 
Leg. Div., vol. i. p. 325, vol. iii. p. 48, the latter without any 
acknowledgment ; and from this secondary source it appears in 
Kcighfley's Fairy Mythology, p. 313, under the title of " Ainsel." 
There aro some original traits of the Northumbrian fairies in 
Mr. Robert White's introduction to " The Gloamyne Buchte, a 
ballad by James Telfer," in the 'Table Book, Leg. Div., ii. pp. 

* Dr. Union's Wallet-Book of the Jlviwtn Wall, p. 145. 
f Hodgson' a History of Northumberland, part ii. vol. iii. pp. 411- 

+ Chatto's Rambles in Northumberland, p. 232. 



130-138. Telfer's ballad, a fairy lay, is after the manner of 
the "Ettrick Shepherd," written in that absurd orthography 
which Hogg imagined to be old Scottish, which, to the degrada- 
tion of the language, has unfortunately found a crowd of 

Fairy Treasures at Bambouough. 

There is a part of the rock on which Bamborough Castle 
stands only revealed to the luckj', where money is found, 
having been placed there by the fairies. Those who participate 
in their bounty may have it every time they visit the spot, but 
unless a silver coin is placed among it to secure it, it would slip 
away, as if it had never been. A certain lad got ever so much 
money there, but he had always to add to it a piece of genuine 
British coin, " to keep it whole," as the phrase went. An old 
man upwards of seventy told me, and he had had the account 
from his grandmother. 

On Tweedside (North Durham), in some old pasture fields, 
there still remain the twisted ridges, like ever so many repeti- 
tions of the letter S, cast up by the plough, when oxen formed 
the draught. The flexure was to enable the oxen to wind out 
the furrows at the land's end without trampling on them ; but 
the story is that it was a precaution against the malevolence of 
the fairies, who took a malicious pleasure in shooting their fatal 
bolts at the patient beasts of burden who tore up their grassy 
hillocks and recreation grounds, and that they aimed their 
arrows along the furrows, imagining them to be straight, but 
they were baffled by their being drawn crooked, and thereby 
fell wide of the mark. They were therefore called elf- furrows. 

In the Tweed, near Kolso, there are some dangerous weills, 
or whirlpools, of which the more noted are the Maxwheill, the 
Big and Little Coble Holes. An old man, it must be upwards 


of seventy years since, said he never went up the Chalkheugh, 
a, high terrace overlooking " Tweed's fair river, broad and 
deep," " after dark," without seeing the fairies " dancing round 
the weils in the Coble Holes." * 

An adventure with the fairies near Yetholm, which unfor- 
tunately breaks off abruptly, I find in the MS. of "William 
Jackson, a native of Wooler, supplementary to his brother 
James Jackson's enumeration of the inhabitants of that place 
when he was a young man. It was written in 1837, and 
James Jackson was then seventy-four years old, and had been 
absent fifty-five or fifty-six years from Wooler, which affords 
the date of 1782. " My old schoolmistress, Stilty Mary (Mary 
Turnbull, who lived with her sister Isabel), had a brother whose 
name was Thomas. He occasionally came from Yetholm and 
resided with his sisters for a fortnight or three weeks. When 
Thomas was at Wooler the boys in passing used to shout, 
' Peace be here till Thomas Turnbull, the king's toller, pass 
bye.' This was very annoying to the brother and sisters ; and 
Thomas used sometimes to stand behind the door, with the 
sneck in his hand, and bolt out upon them, and if he caught 
hold of any of them the punishment was not so imaginary as 
the offence. The origin of the reproach was this. Their father 
was the collector of tolls at Yetholm. He had occasion to visit 
Edinburgh, and in coming home, a few miles before he reached 
the town, he came upon a large assemblage of fairies, dressed 
in green jackets and other splendid equipments, dancing upon 
a sunny brae to the sound of a great variety of musical instru- 
ments and drums. At this sight and sound old Thomas's horse 
stood ' right sore astonished,' and startled and curvetted in 

* " Yet I have seen thee by the darkling stream, 
Among the fuani-bells deftly dancing.''' 

J. Telver, To a Fairy. 
L 2 


such a manner as to endanger its rider. In this emergency he 
bethought himself that the king's name might possess some 
authority, so he shouted out with all his might, ' Peace be here 
till Thomas Turnbull, the king's toller, pass bye.' The fairies 
were so much engaged with their sport that they had not 
observed him before ; but on hearing the order, instead of 
obeying it, they came running in great " 

(Ccetera desunt.) — The remainder cannot be recovered, but 
Thomas probably won the race that would ensue. 

The Berwickshire fairies were either a quiet lot or they lived 
among a too matter-of-fact population, for their memorial has 
almost vanished. The banks of Fosterland Burn, a contribu- 
tory to a morass called Billy Mire in the Merse, "were." says 
the late Mr. George Henderson, " a favourite haunt of the 
fairies in bygone days, and we once knew an old thresher 
or barnsman, David Donaldson by name, who, although he 
never saw any of those aerial beings, constantly maintained 
that he frequently heard their sweet music in the silence 
of the summer midnight by Fosterland Burn, by the banks 
of Ale Water, and on the broom-clad Pyper Knowes." 
In the last resort another authority asserts that " they used to 
come out from an opening in the side of the knowe, all beauti- 
fully clad in green, and a piper playing to them in the most 
enchanting strains." They once attempted, but failed, to 
abstract the shepherd's wife of little Billy when in childbed ; 
and they were detected loosening Langton House from its 
foundations in order to set it down in an extensive morass called 
Dogden Moss, in the parish of Greenlaw, but were scared by 
the utterance of the holy name.* In one of Mr. Henderson's 
MSS. I also find that some curiously formed eminences on the 

* Henderson's Popular Rhi/men of Berwickshire, pp. 3, 70, 66, 67, 


banks of the Whitadder, near Hutton Mill, called the Cradle 
Knowes, were in old times a scene of revelry for the light- 
footed fairies. 

The fairies of Greenlaw-dean used to hold a harmless mid- 
night convention at the outlets of two drains called the Double 
Conduits, where there was a constant supply of pure fresh water 
to cool their thirst, after their mirthful exertions in footing it 
on the fine unbroken sward that there clothes the banks of the 

A steep track, resembling a road, but apparently only a 
fracture in the strata, up a steep rock-face near Oldcambus, near 
Cockburnspath, is still called the Fairies' Road. Up this, from 
the glen beneath, the queen of faery, while still visible to mortals, 
was wont to drive in state at evening's close, " in her coach 
and six." It was the natural approach to a British camp, 
situated on a platform above. 

A retired hollow, overgrown in summer with tall ferns, near 
the head of Billsdean Burn, East Lothian, is popularly known 
as the Fairies' O'on, or Oven, but has no legend attached to it. 

The white-flowered Linum catharticum, or purging flax, 
which grows in natural pastures, is called by the shepherds in 
Berwickshire " Fairy Lint." It is supposed to furnish the 
fairy women with materials for their distaffs. [As I was the 
first to make known this name in Johnston's Nat. His. East. 
Bor., p. 45, I protest against attempts made to explain that it 
is so-called " from its great delicacy."] 

The foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) has in its name no con- 
nection with the fairy folks, but as I have noted elsewhere is 
from tho A.S. l'oxesclife, foxeselofe, foxesglofe, foxesglove — 
the glove of tho fox. Tho false etymology was, I believe, first 
advanced in Landsborough's Arran, p. 144 ; accepted by Dr. 
Johnston, Nat. Hist. East. Bord.,p. 157; and eagerly seized on 
since by popular writers. 


When I was a boy the large flat stone on which the mistresses 
of households knocked their linen webs when bleaching, which 
lay beside the well at a farm-place in Berwickshire, had on its 
upper surface an excavation resembling a small female foot, 
which was reckoned to have been impressed by a fairy footstep. 
Another stone with a corresponding impression by which people, 
crossed a miry part of a road leading to St. Helen's Church, 
Oldcambus, was regarded as a " Mermaid's Stone ; " she 
having stepped on it (not being a conventional mermaid with 
fishy tail) when escaping from her mortal captor, whoever he 
was. These were natural concavities, the rock being of too 
indurated a character, viz. Silurian of the closest texture, to 
admit of being worked by the chisel. Footmarks cut in rocks, 
in the Celtic districts of Scotland and in Ireland, are indicative of 
the spot on which a chieftain or king was inaugurated by placing 
his foot in the depression. See a paper by Captain Thomas, 
R.N., " On Dunadd, Glassary, Argyleshire ; the place of 
Inauguration of the Dalriadic Kings," in The Proceedings of the 
Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1878-9, pp. 28-47. In two 
instances cited it is connected with the fairies. " Mr. Jervise 
notes that a small undressed block of granite. lies by the side of 
the mountain stream of the Turret in Glenesk, near Lord 
Dalhousie's shooting-lodge of Millden, and upon it the figure 
of a human foot, of small size, is very correctly and pretty 
deeply scooped out. This is called the ' fairy's footmark ' " 
(p. 39). "About 1831, when the ' Fairy Knowe,' in the parish 
of Carmyllie, Forfarshire, was being reduced, or removed in 
the course of agricultural improvement, there was found, 
besides stone cists and a bronze ring, a rude boulder of about 
two tons' weight on the under side of which was scooped (ho 
representation of a human foot. Probably some distinguished 
cliioftain had erected the tumulus, not only as a tomb for him- 
self, but also as a place of inauguration whereon the engraved 


stone, by which the right to rule was conveyed, was placed " 
(p. 38, on the authority of Kilkenny, Arch. Jour., vol. v , 
j). 4/31 ; and Jervise's Epitaphs, p. 249). 

Of an example of a " Fairy Knowe," popularly so called, at 
Stenton, near Dunbar, East Lothian, having likewise proved 
on being opened to be a tumulus, I obtained notice, in 
February, 1873, and also procured the wholo of the articles 
discovered in the interior for examination. Till removed it 
appeared to be a smooth grassy mound, but on the surface layer 
of earth being stripped off it was found to consist mostly of 
stones and boulders. It contained a stone cist formed of sand- 
stone slabs, enclosing a large baked clay urn, rudely orna- 
mented with lattice work and with upright and horizontal 
lines, the mouth undermost, covering a few fragments of 
human bones. Along with the urn, a very artistically chipped 
flint knife, and a diminutive oblong sharpening stone of primitive 
clay slate — both fairy toys — appeared. All these articles belong 
to the Neolithic period. 

It is true here, as all over the country : 

" Where the scythe cuts and the sock rives, 
Hae done wi' fairies and bee-bykes ! " 

Fairy and Wishing and Healing Wells. 

Resort to the Fairy Well is still a favourite pastime in holi- 
day times with young people at Wooler. They express a secret 
wish and drop in a crooked pin. Hence it is also called the 
Pin and Wishing Well. The well is situated in a narrow hollow 
among the lower Cheviots which rise above the town, and is 
formed out of a natural spring of pure and very cool water 
originating amons; rocks at the base of a high platform, which 
has been occupied in the olden time by a British camp, now 
known as the Maiden Camp (the Maiden Castle of Wallis). 
From its connection with llio camp, or in compliment to the 


spirit of the spring, its genuine name is said by the old people 
to be the " Maiden Well." * It is drained into an open ditch, 
and is at present too shallow to admit of children being dipped 
into it. Nor do I know that this has ever been practised here, 
but'the old inhabitant who communicated some of this informa- 
tion was familiar with the formula incidental to such applications 
for healing purposes at sacred springs. The applicant having 
cried " Hey, how ! " dipped in the weakly child, and before 
departure left a piece of bread and cheese as an offering. Sir 
Walter Scott, in his introduction to the Tale ofTamlane, refers 
to a spring upon the top of Minchmuir, a mountain in Peebles- 
shire, called the Cheese Well, " because, anciently, those who 
passed that way were wont to throw into it a piece of cheese as 
an offering to the fairies to whom it was consecrated." The 
fairies themselves practised such ablutions. Fletcher, in his 
Faithful Shepherdess tells us of — 

" A virtuous well, about whose flowery banks 
The nimble-footed fairies dance their rounds 
By tbe full moonshine, dipping oftentimes 
Their stolen children, so to make them free 
From dying flesh and dull mortality." 

Mr. George Tate, in a notice of the Wooler Pin Well, men- 
tions having heard that a procession was formed to visit the 
well on the morning of Mayday. This may have been so, but 

* Maiden, however, is a term appropriate to British or even Roman 
camps and ways. A terrace now in the centre of Wooler was for- 
merly called the Maiden Knowe, and may have been once fortified. 
There is the Maiden Castle on Stanemoor ; the Maiden Castle, an 
old earthevn fortress, near Durham ; the station of Caer-vorran, from 
the Welsh Caer-vonvyn, the Maiden Castle near the Maiden-way; 
Edinburgh is the Castra Puellarum, See note in Hodgson's History 
of Northumberland, vol. iii. p. 136. 


on inquiry I could not find any tradition of such a circumstance. 
It was natural that those who went to gather May-dew should 
proceed to the well, being on the nearest open common. Madron 
Well, in Cornwall, on a May morning is visited by groups of 
young girls desirous of knowing when they were to be married. 
"Two pieces of straw about an inch long were crossed and the pin 
run through them. The cross was then dropped into the water 
and the rising bubbles carefully counted, as they marked the 
number of years which would pass ere the arrival of the happy 
day." The practice also prevailed at a well near St. Austell. 
" On approaching the well each visitor is expected to throw in 
a crooked pin, and, if you are lucky, you may possibly see 
the other pins rising from the bottom to meet the more recent 
offering." * 

The "Worm Well" at Lambton, co. Durham, had formerly 
a cover and an iron ladle. " Half a century ago it was in 
repute as a wishing well, and was one of the scenes dedicated 
to the usual festivities and superstitions of Midsummer Eve. A 
crooked pin (the usual tribute of the ' wishers ') may sometimes 
be still discovered, sparkling amongst the clear gravel of the 
bottom of its basin." t A well of directly the opposite character,. 
Ffynnon Elian, the Cursing Well, is referred to in Mr. Halli- 
well's Excursions in North Wales, pp. 63-65. " Various cere- 
monies are gone through on the occasion ; amongst others, the 
name of the devoted is registered in a book — a pin in his 
name and a pebble with his initials inscribed thereon are thrown 
into the well. When the curse is to be removed the ceremonies 
are to a certain extent reversed, such as erasing the name from 
the book, taking up the pebble, with several other practices of a 
superstitious character." 

* Hunt's Popular Romances of the West of England, p. 295. 
t Sir C. Sharp's Bishopriclc Garland, p. 23. 


I had written thus much when I received from my friend 
Mr. Thomas Arlle, Highlaws, Morpeth, an account of a 
" wishing well" at Keyheugh, in the parish of Elsdon, North- 
umberland, which has remained hitherto unnoticed. '•' In the 
parish of Elsdon," writes Mr. Arkle, "about a mile south o: 
Midgey Ha', on a steep hill called Darden, is a perpendicular 
precipice of freestone rock, which is a striking object from the 
Elsdon and Rothbury road, at a point a little to the east of 
Graslees Mill. The rocky face extends to a considerable length, 
the greatest height being about sixty feet. On the southern or 
higher side the ground is level with the top of the cliff, whilst 
below a large area is covered with detached fragments of rock 
of all sizes, scattered about in the wildest confusion, the whole 
place presenting clear indications of the tremendous power of 
glacial action. 

" Such is the wild and romantic place called Keyheugh, which, 
though now lonely and deserted, was in olden times the 
attractive Sunday resort of the young people resident in the 
neighbourhood. At a little distance from the main precipice is 
a well, on the bottom of which, centuries ago, might always 
have been observed a number of pins ; or, as my informant, 
who had visited the place in his youthful days, expressed him- 
self, ' a heap of pins,' each visitor dropping in one to further 
the fulfilment of wishes silently breathed over the magic 

The Rev. Gr. Rome Hall, in a very interesting account of 
"Modern Survivals of Ancient Well Worship in North Tyne- 
dale," in the Arch. ySliana, n.s., vol. viii. pp. 60-87, refers to 
some of the fountains in the district to which votive offerings 
were presented, either in the present age or the past. Some of 
these wells had healing attributes, others conferred prosperity, 
or led to pleasant anticipations that would ultimately terminate 
in a course of action which would obtain the object desired. 


Over several of these wells saints had obtained the guardianship, 
the native deities being deposed. The Halliwell, in the parish 
of Chollerton, a chalybeate spring in a burn of the same name, 
on Gunnerton Fell, has for a long time drawn numerous 
votaries to its healing waters. In the village of Colwell, in the 
same parish, the well, on or about Midsummer Sunday, used to 
be dressed with flowers, as was customary with other wells else- 
where in England on certain holidays. 

Into the village wells at Wark, at New Year tide, the first 
visitant was wont to cast in as an offering flowers, grass, hay, or 
straw. The Birtley Haly Well was till recently visited on " fine 
Sunday afternoons in summer, and itinerant vendors of refresh- 
ments from the village, which is about a mile distant, were wont 
to be present on the spot." But the chief well for pilgrimage 
in North Tynedale seems to have been the Bore Well on 
Erring Burn, near Bingfield, which is strongly impregnated with 
sulphur. " On the Sunday following the 4th day of July," 
says Mr. Hall, " that is, about Midsummer day, according to 
the old style, great crowds of people used to assemble here from 
all the surrounding hamlets and villages. The scene has been 
described to me as resembling a fair, stalls for the sale of various 
refreshments being brought from a distance year by year at the 
summer solstice. The neighbouring slopes had been terraced, 
and seats formed for the convenience of pilgrims and visitors. 
One special object of female pilgrims was, I am informed, to 
pray at the well, or express a silent wish as they stood over it 

for the euro of barrenness If the pilgrim's faith were 

sufficient, her wish at the Bore Well would be certain to be ful- 
filled within tho twelve months A very considerable 

number of visitors, with tents and purchasable commodities, 
assembled even this last year to celebrate the old Midsummer 
Sunday at the Bore Well." This festival was called " Bore 
Well Sunday." Our Lady's Wells, or the Holy Wells, on the 


banks of the Hart, near Longwitton, as related by Mr. Hodgsou 
in his Hist, of Northumberland, of which the easternmost was 
termed the Eye Well, attracted a great concourse of people from 
all parts, in memory of the old people, on Midsummer Sunday 
and the Sunday following, who amused themselves with leaping, 
eating gingerbread brought for sale to the spot, and drinking 
the waters of the well. A tremendous dragon, whom Guy of 
Warwick slew, once guarded the fountains.* 

Within Mr. Hall's recollection there was a yearly pilgrimage 
to Grilsland Wells on the Sunday after old Midsummer Day 
called the " Head Sunday," and the Sunday after it. " Hun- 
dreds, if not thousands, used to assemble there from all directions 
by rail, when that was availabe, and by vehicles or on foot 

In the copious well of St. Ninian at Holystone, near Alwinton, 
also called " Our Lady's Well," Dr. Embleton of Newcastle on 
one occasion observed at the bottom many pins lying as votive 
offerings. There was a holy well of great repute called St. 
Mary's Well at Jesmond that had supposed healing properties, 
and the Rag Well at Benton was also famous, where the votaries 
left fragments of their garments attached to the trees and 
bushes growing near the sacred fountain. At the well of 
Venerable Bede, at Monkton near Jarrow, in Brand's time, " as 
late as 1740 it was a prevailing custom to bring children 
troubled with any infirmity, and a crooked pin was put in, and 
the well laved dry between each dipping. Twenty children 
were brought together on a Sunday to be dipped in this well, 
and at Midsummer Eve there was a great resort of the 

* The Eev. John Horsley (Materials for a Hist, of Xortlmmberland, 
p. 9) says, " They have a story concerning a dragon at Thornton 
Wells," which arc in the vicinity of Longwitton. They were mineral 


neighbouring people (Brand's Pop. Antig., i. p. 383 (note), and 
Hint, of Newcastle, vol. ii. p. 54). In the Picture of Newcastle 
it is added that the concourse at the summer solstice was 
attended with " bonefires, music, dancing, and other rural 
sports," but that these customs had been discontinued before 
1812, although people then alive remember to have seen great 
numbers of infirm and diseased children dipped in expectation 
of their being restored to health. 

Quite recently Mr. Hall was told by an eye-witness at 
Ricearton Junction of a man from that district of Liddesdale 
who had taken the journey by the railway to St. Boswell's for 
the purpose of visiting a Holy Well. His offering was a farthing, 
and he returned home in full faith that the cure of a near rela- 
tive suffering from cancer would be effected by the application 
of the simple lotion. 

Mr. Hall gives a number of other illustrations from other 
districts, for which I refer to his paper ; and he inquires 
whether the accumulation of Roman coins and other relics in 
Coventina's Well at Procolitia, on the Roman Wall, may not 
have been in part propitiatory, and connected with well- 

The Hazeliugg Dunnie. 

In crossing Belford Moor, by the upper road leading to 
Wooler, there are several projecting rocky eminences of sand- 
stone overlooking the valley, where Lyham, Holburn, Cheesham 
in the Grange, and two farms called Hazelrigg lie. Several of 
the more conspicuous rocks bear names, such as Cockenheugh 
Craj^s, Collierheugh Crags, Bounder's or Bowden doors Crags. 
Sum' Crag, and Jack's (Jack Daw) Crags. 

In former times, and it may be so still, these heights were 
frequented by a mischievous being, or rather spirit, called the 
Hazelrigg Dunnie. Dunnie is reputed to have been a petty 


reiver of olden time who hoarded his gear in the crags, which 
contain several cavernous receptacles adapted for concealment. 
On one occasion, however, he was surprised by the people of 
Hazelrigg in the granary robbing corn, and sacriticed to their 
vengeance. He was loath to die, for it took " a the folks o' 
Hazelrigg " to kill him. This event happened " lang syne." 
His ghost, however, has haunted the place ever since. His 
pranks seem to lie chiefly in frightening the children and 
rustics of the village, and to be somewhat akin to those of the 
Hedley Cow. Often in the morning when the ploughman has 
caught his horse (as he thinks) in the field and brought him 
home and yoked him with fitting care, he will be horror-stricken 
to see the harness come slap to the ground just as he has 
finished ; while his tractable brute, never guilty of such pranks, 
is already beheld afar off, kicking up his heels and scouring 
across the country like the wind. According to other accounts 
Dunnie (as his name imports) was a Brownie, and created 
uproar in mornings by an upturn of furniture. He also was 
general exchanger of babies between the fairies and thoughtless 
good wives, and was particularly on the alert when the mid- 
wife came, sometimes substituting himself for the horse that 
brought her and landing both her and her conductor in a 
morass, taking precious care that "Dun" at least should not 
be " in the mire." 

This is a sample of Dunnie's mischief. At other times his 
dim form is seen about the Crags, apparently bewailing the loss of 
his buried treasure. This is inferred from his constantly repeat- 
ing the rhyme given subsequently, whence the natives believe 
that they could soon be rich enough — if they only knew how. 

My friend Mr. W. B. Boyd, writing to me from Hetton 
Hail, of date 1st October, I860, says, " The other day, on 
examining an old map of South Hazelridge, I found the crag 
running almost parallel with the Dancing Green Knowe, which 


is on North Hazelridge, but on the opposite side of the march, is 
called Collier (or Coller) braes ; possibly the Collier-heugh of 
the rhyme. A little further along on the south side of the 
road to Belford is a crag called Bowden Doors, of which, I 
think, the word Bownders must be a contraction. They lie 
within half a mile of each other." 

Still more recently, in passing a quarry before coming to 
Plazelrigg, Mr. B. pointed out the steepest part, and said that it 
was there that Dunnie sometimes used to hang over his legs, 
when he took an airing at night. During high winds a peculiar 
loud singing and changeable sound about one of the windows of 
the farmhouse of North Hazelrigg perplexed the inmates, who 
attributed it to Dunnie. On a careful examination it was per- 
ceived to be caused by a piece of paper, fixed in the top of the 
window, which the wind had converted into an iEolian harp. 
Allan Ramsay in some verses, " Spoken to iEolus, in the house 
of Marlefield (Roxburghshire), on the night of a violent wind," 
actually compares the noise occasioned to that of the action of a 

" kow." 

" Say, wherefore makes thou all this din, 
In dead of night ? — hech ! like a kow 
To puff at winnocks, and cry ' Wow ! ' " 

The story of Dunnie I got from a herd-boy, who came to me 
when one day I was resting, within view of all the places 
mentioned ; the rest of his character was known to an old man 
of the district whom I questioned. It has appeared in Mr. 
Denham's tracts, but I replace it here with additional remarks. 
Mr. Henderson {Folklore of the Northern Counties, pp. 263, 
270) compares Dunnie with the " Picktree Brag," &c, of 
which he gives a pretty full account. In the notes to Thomas 
Wilson's Pitman's Pcty, there are particulars of another Bran- of 
the kind, which I feel bound to cite, that it may be preserved in 
its appropriate plate. 


Mr. Wilson has been speaking of the witches of Gateshead 
Fell, and their good treatment compared with those of Newcastle, 
as they " were allowed full liberty to go where they pleased, 
in what shape they pleased, and in what way was most agree- 
able to themselves, either to scud over our hills in the shape of 
a hare or whisk through the air on a broomstick."* One of 
these, old Nell Bland, was " the only real witch we had on 
the Low Fell." Going to the pit to meet " Awd Nell and 
Cuddy's swine," 

" Twee varry far fra sonsy things," 

made the workmen " on the look out through the day for 
some untoward event." f 

Mabel was another of those old wives whose repute was none 
of the best. 

" The highly -gifted race of ' witches,' " says Mr. Wilson, 
" seems rapidly tending toward extinction. There are here 
and there yet to be seen the remains of their weak and de- 
generate descendants, but in such a feeble and feckless state 
as hardly to deserve the name. I have known one of these poor 
creatures many years ago whose power never extended further 
than raising a wind to blow off the roof of her neighbour's 
cottage or shake his standing corn. I am aware that she 
was accused of more serious mischiefs ; but how far these ill- 
natured aceusations were true is very difficult to say, for I 
could never discern anything about Mabel that would warrant 
them, for she was neither deformed nor ugly, nor did I ever 
recognise her frisking about in any other shape than her own- 
In some other respects, however, she was rather a singular 
woman. She had a memory that retained the date of every 
event that had taken place for some miles round the place 

* Page 74. t Tages 20, 23. 


where she lived. She could give you the day and hour of all 
the births and deaths in the neighbourhood during her time. 
She knew exactly who 'came again,' as she called it, after 
suffering violent deaths, either in coal-pits or elsewhere ; what 
shapo they were in (for they did not always appear in their 
own), and what they said when they could be prevailed upon 
to speak, what it was that brought them back, aud how long it 
was before the priest or some such competent person got them 
laid at rest in their graves. All the haunted houses or places 
she had off by rote, and could have given you the names of all 
the ' uncanny folk,' or such as had ' bad een,' and had 
amuied themselves by plaguing their credulous neighbours. 

" Poor Mabel has been dead manyyears. She was in the habit 
of amusing her young auditors with the birth and parentage of 
' Dick the Deevil,' who frequently rode over the Black Fell to 
his work upon the ' Porto Bello Brag,' a kind of wicked sprite 
that was well known in that part of the neighbourhood. The 
description of the ' Pel ton Brag ' (Picktree, in the vicinity of 
l'elton), given by Sir Cuthbert Sharp in his Bishoprick Gar- 
land, induces me to believe that it must have been the same 
roguish sprite that played such tricks at Porto Bello. As the 
places are only a few miles distant, it is possible that he might 
extend the sphere of his antics to the latter place when he was 
not particularly busy at home. If they were not the same they 
were evidently, from the similarity of their habits, from one 
common stock. It delighted in mischief, and whoever mounted 
it (for it always appeared in the shape of an ass) were sure to be 
thrown into some bog or whin-bush at parting, when the crea- 
ture, as if enjoying the mischief, would run off, ' nickerin' and 
laughin',' as Dick would say. He had put the assmanship of 
many to the test, but none were able to sit him whenever he 
had arrived at a suitable place for depositing his load — not 
even Dick, who had become a favourite, and who in the end was 


the only one who had spirit enough to cross him. Dick, how- 
ever, from long practice, had a pretty good idea whereabouts he 
would be laid, and, from being on his guard, very seldom 
received an injury. The case was often very different with 
others, who had not his precaution, or were not such favourites 
as Dick, who was generally accommodated with a soft fall."* 

For another version of the Hazelrigg Dunnie, derived equally 
with my own from traditionary sources, I am indebted to Mrs. 
Culley, of Fowberry Tower, which contains a few additional 

The ghost known as " Hazelrigg Dunny " is said to be that of 
a reiver, which takes the occasional form of a dun-coloured 
horse or pony, and frequents a cave on the side of Cockenheugh, 
near Hazelrigg, called the Cuddie's Core. He had, according to 
a tradition contained in the following old rhyme, lost a great 
treasure, which he had no doubt buried in the neighborhood of 
Cockenheugh : — 

In Collier heugh there's gear eneugh, 
In Cocken heugh there's mair, 
But I've lost the keys of Bowdea Doors, 
I'm ruined for evermair." 

The two first-mentioned places are tracts of moorland, and the 
" Bowden Doors " is a craggy mass of rock near Lyham. 

Var. — " For I've lost the key o' the Bowden Doors." 

"In the infernal regions," says Hans Anderson, "misers stand 
and lament that they had forgotten the keys of their money 


Pitman's Pay, p. 75, note. 


A favourite haunt of the " Dunny " is Fowberry Bridge, and 
lie is even said to pay a visit now and then to Fowberry Tower. 

A few words as to the Cuddie's Cove. Cuddie is a corrup- 
tion of the word Cuthbert, and an older and more beautiful 
tradition than that of the "Dunny" assigns the Cuddie's or 
Cutlibert's Cove on Cocken Heugh as an occasional resting 
place of the famous St. Cuthbert when, as Bishop of Lindis- 
farne, lie used to make journeys through his diocese. 

It is told to Dunnie's credit that, if supper plates were not 
washed up overnight, the Dunny came and washed them ; 
whether he was a sympathiser with tired or lazy people, or 
whether he did not like plates to be long dirty, tradition 
deponeth not. 


In Murray's Traveller's Guide for Northumberland, pp. 161, 
102, it is said: " Chillingham till lately had its Radiant Boy; 
Hazelrigg, the goblin called Dunnie; Brinkburn, a terrible 
monk ; Cresswell, a lady who starved herself to death in its old 
tower; Wallington, its headless lady; and Willington, another 
lady of awful aspect." Of several of these I have not traced 
the history, but I find the " radiant boy " again at Corby 
Castle, the seat of one of the branches of the Howard family, 
lying on the Eden, near Carlisle. Mr. Fraser Tytler, the his- 
torian of Scotland, visited Corby Castle, November 8th, 1840, of 
which he thus writes to his sister : " The whole place is redolent 
of feudal antiquity, with a fine gallery of old portraits, an old 
library, and (as you know) a ghost ; but I have come away 
without seeing the radiant boy of Corby. This was extra- 
ordinary, for I had to walk to my bedroom every night through 
n long dark gallery of which you could not see the termination, 
with old warriors frowning on me, and the moon streaming in 
through the Gothic window at the end — circumstances which 

M 2 


one would have thought any well-conditioned ghost would have 
profited by." — Burgon's Memoir of P. F. Tytler, p. 300. 

A lady writes me : " There is a ghost at Painters' Gate, near 
Fowberry, situated close to the cross roads between Wooler and 
Chatton, Fowberry and LilburD. The ghost here is said to be 
a man on a dun-coloured horse. Another instance of a ghost of 
this kind is at the cross roads at Lilburn, where a man riding 
with his head under his arm and a lady wringing her hands are 
said to be seen." 

A ghost used to frequent Weetwood Sandy Lane, and also 
Weetwood Bridge and the road approaching it from Wooler. 
If I remember right, some unhappy being "put away with 
himself," or committed suicide, somewhere thereabouts. 

Bev. Matthew Culley, writes : " The village of Humble- 
ton, not far from AVboler, where the famous battle was fought 
in 1403, is haunted by a ghost (of what sex I know not) in the 
form of a hare, which is hunted sometimes by the Wooler and 
Humbleton people — but is never killed." 

The Rev. John Horsley in his Materials for a History of 
Northumberland (1729-30), says, p. 9: "Adam Crisp, who 
lived at Crawley Dean, is said to have had encounters with an 
apparition there. They talk also of his going to London and 
coming back in forty-eight hours. Mr. Punshon told me that 
Crisp had sent to him about the apparition. On the 4th of 
July, 1728, when I was at Piercebridge, in my tour, the people 
told me of a stone coffin which had been converted into a swine 
trough, but the people who had done this were so haunted and 
disturbed that they were glad to return it to i(s former place." 

Mr. Sidney Gibson, in his Memoir on Northumberland, 1st 
ed., p 36, states that "the ruins of a mansion of the Orde 
family, built at a place called Sandy Bank, is attributed to a 
ghost of such terrific character as to have rendered it unin- 

border sketches of folklore. 1 65 

Dudley Brechan's Ghost. 

The spirit of Dudley Brechan haunted the " Big House," on 
the Tenter's Hill, a bulky, red-tiled, and white-washed mansion, 
one of a row built on a ridge, where the dyers of Wooler were 
wont in former days to stretch their webs to dry. It is an old 
story, with its details lost. When the ghost paid its evening 
visits, its descent was like a " meikle cupple " falling with a 
crash on the ceiling. Many a "gliff" the folk got; but 
beyond frightening them it perpetrated no other mischief. 

When people wakened and looked out early in the morning, 
they would have seen a carriage coming up the main street of 
the town, drawn by black horses, on its way to the churchyard. 
No one living at Wooler knew anything of" Dudley Brechan." * 

* There is a notice of the Brechans or Brechams or Brighams, in 
the MS. of the brothers Jackson, of date as far back as 1782. John 
Brccliam lived then in Ramsay's Lane, as a dyer, and valued himself 
for dyeing " a good bright yellough," as he pronounced the word 
yellow. He was supposed, from his dialect, to be from Aberdeen- 
shire. " He was a great peaferer, often complaining of little to do 
and consequent poverty. My father when living in Stein Laidley's 
house, had a frequent visit of Johnnie, when working by candlelight. 
Knowing John's weakness he used occasionally to provide a shilling's 
worth of halfpence, which he put in a leathern purse and shook at him, 
when he came in. ' Aye weol-a-wat, Andrew, ye get it aw ; ye have 
nye plenty and ma share o' the siller is very sma.' I have often 
heard it remarked that old people, though very feeble when they 
began harvest work, revived greatly in a few days. I remember 
gathering upon Horsdcn (a cultivated hill face above Wooler) after 
the shearers. T was sitting near Jenny Biecham, John's wife, at 
dinner time, when she made this remark to one of her neighbours : 
' And for instance,' said she, ' there's our Johnnie, when he came 
first out he could scarcely step over a strae, and now ho's as canty as 
a kale-worm.'" This pair may have been relatives of Dudley, for I 
can gather that they had a family. 


It was recollected that a suicide, " one who put down himself," 
was buried at the churchyard gate of that place. 

"Willy Wabby's Ghost. 

Willy Wabby's (Walby's) ghost, which once gained great 
notoriety, was contrived by a person who wished to get pos- 
session of a " big house," called Lark Hall, near Burrowdon, 
about the year 1800. The plates and other crockery came 
dancing off the shelf on to the floor. People going into the 
house would suddenly have a pot or other utensil clapped on 
the crown of their head, or be liable to have some other divert- 
ing cantrip played on them. The country folks used to flock 
from a far way off to witness or get the news of the droll pro- 
ceedings. There are full particulars in Mackenzie's History of 
Northumberland, ii., note, p. 42, but this reference to it is 

Andrew Bates, who was curate of Si John's Church, New- 
castle, from 1689 to 1710, was much employed in exorcising 
houses reputed to be haunted. I remember his son, Ulric 
Bates, living 1763. Bates was celebrated in particular for 
laying, as they stated it, the ghost of one Barbara Cay, wife of 
a Mr. Cay, a Presbyterian of fortune and reputation in New- 
castle, after all the Presbyterian ministers had failed. — Credat 
Judceus (Spearman's MSS.). 

White Ladies. 

The White Lady was either akin to the ghost or the spirit of a 
fountain. A wood between Yeavoring and Akeld, which is 
nothing more than a strip of modern planting, is haunted by a 
" White Lady," who appears to walk there during the night to 
frighten people. The White Lady near Whittingham, in 


Northumberland, had some connection with a well close to the 
River Aln above that village, situated at the Lee or Lea-side. 
The well goes by the name of the Lady Well or Lady's Well. 
" The Legend of the White Lady of Blenkinsopp " is told in 
Richardson's Table Book, Leg. Div., iii. pp. 144-148 (by 
William Pattison and G. B. Richardson).* At Detchant, near 
Belford, is what was named to me a " Cattle Well, " f which 
was frequented by a White Lady. I could ascertain nothing 
more of her from the old man, who had heard of it in his 
youth. Detchant, he told me, was wont to be a lonely place, 
and was infamous for robberies committed near it. 

For the following account of a White Lady who haunts 
Coupland Castle on the River Glen, I am indebted to Rev. 
Matthew Culley, and I give it in his words. His letter is 
dated August 17th, 1880 : 

"According to a tradition, one of the rooms, a large and 
gloomy apartment, in the oldest part of this castle (Coupland) is 
haunted by a ghost in the shape of a 'White Lady.' 

"As to who she is, wherefore she appears, or when she first 
appeared, tradition is silent; but it is certain that half a century 
ago the 'haunted room' at Coupland had as 'uncanny' a reputa- 
tion as it has at present. Within my own memory, and indeed 
quite recently, strange phenomena have been witnessed, and 
many unaccountable sounds, such as wailing voices, knockings, 
&c, have been heard at night by persons sleeping in the haunted 

* Mr. Denhani told me that William Pattison, who contributed 
several papers to the Table Book, went to London, and it was 
believed died there. G. B. Richardson emigrated to Australia or 
New Zealand. 

| Perhaps cattle drank at it. On Wooler Common there was a 
well of this description called " The Neatherd's Well," a neatherd 
being employed in charge of the townspeople's cows. 


room and in rooms close by; whilst during the last six or seven 
years the White Lady herself is said positively to have been 
seen on more than one occasion." 

The Death of Jean Gordon. 

The Gipsies, or Faas, from its proximity to their head- 
quarters at Yetholm, greatly frequented Wooler, especially at 
the two fairs, which offered excellent opportunities for the 
disposal of their wares. On one of these statute anniversaries 
one of the Faas stole a pair of shoes from a stall. The towns- 
people, although some ascribed the ill- deed to the country folks, 
broke out and carried the culprit to the mill-dam, which 
branching off from Wooler water flows along the bottom of the 
high bank on which the town is situated, and ducked her there 
till she was next to dead among their hands. One of them had 
gone so far as to set his foot on her to keep her down. When 
the excitement subsided down she was drawn out, all be- 
draggled with slime, and laid on a high stone on the wooded 
bank above the mill-lead ; but she was too far gone for recovery, 
and gave only a gasp or two and died. " Old William Bolam," 
who was once a schoolmaster in the place, and who died in the 
workhouse several years since, recollected seeing her in that 
deplorable condition, and how before removal the mud had to 
be washed from her clothes and bod}-. The Gipsies never 
forgot this barbarous outrage, and vowed revenge ; and hence 
a constant watch had to be kept on their movements for many 
years, to prevent their taking similar "wild justice," for this 
wicked maltreatment of one of the clan. "Within memory the 
townspeople used to live in dread of them. The woman's name 
was Jean Gordon, and she was married to a Faa.* She was a 
relative of the famous Jean Gordon, who was equally cruelly 

* The Falls (pronounced Faas) belonged to the family of the King 
of the Yetholm Gipsies. 


drowned by the mob at Carlisle. Till this day, whenever a 
continuance of bad weather is experienced at the little town at 
the foot of the Cheviots, old superstitious people say, " That's a 
cloud for the death o' Jean Gordon," or, "A race of bad 
weather will always hang over Wooler for the death o' Jean 
Gordon, drowned in the mill-dam." 

Silky— A Northumbrian Tradition. 

" wha wad Imy a silken gown, 
Wi* a poor broken heart." 

Scots' Song. 

Eighty or ninety years ago the inhabitants of the quiet village 
of Black Heddon, near Stamfordham, and of the country round 
about, were greatly annoyed by the pranks of a preternatural 
being called Silky. This name it had obtained from its mani- 
festing a predilection to make itself visible in the semblance 
of a female dressed in silk. Many a time, when any of the 
more timorous of the community had a night journey to per- 
form, have they unawares and invisibly been dogged by this 
spectral tormentor, who, at the dreariest part of the road, the 
most suitable for thrilling surprises, would suddenly break 
forth in dazzling splendour. If the person happened to be on 
horseback, a sort of exercise for which she evinced a stronsr 
partiality, she would unexpectedly seat herself behind, "rattling 
in her silks." There, after enjoying a comfortable ride, with 
instantaneous abruptness she would, like a thing destitute of 
continuity, dissolve away and become incorporated with the 
nocturnal shades, leaving the bewildered horseman in blank 

At Belsay, some two or three miles from Black Heddon, she 
had a favourite resort. This was a romantic crag finely studded 
with trees, under the gloomy umbrage of which, " like one for- 


lorn," she loved to wander all the live-long night. Here often 
has the belated peasant beheld her dimly through the sombre 
twilight, as if engaged in splitting great stones, or hewing with 
many a stroke some stately " monarch of the grove." And 
while he thus stood, and gazed, and listened to intimations, 
impossible to be misapprehended, of the dread reality of that 
mysterious being, concerning whom so various conjectures were 
awake, all at once, excited by that wondrous agency, he would 
have heard the howling of a resistless tempest rushing through 
the woodland — the branches creaking in violent concussion — or 
rent into fragments by the impetuous fury of the blast — while 
to the eye not a leaf was seen to quiver, nor a pensile spray to 

" All was delusion, nought was truth." 

The bottom of this crag is washed by a picturesque lake or fish- 
pond, at whose outlet is a waterfall, over which a venerable 
tree, sweeping its umbrageous arms, adds impressiveness to the 
scene. Amid the complicated limbs of this tree Silky possessed 
a rude chair, where she was wont, in her moody moments, to 
sit — wind-rocked — enjoying the rustling of the storm in the 
dark woods, or the gush of the cascade as it ascended with 
spirit-like fitfulness, during the pauses of the gale. It is due to 
the present proprietor, Sir Charles M. L. Monck, Bart., of 
Belsay Castle, to state that the tree so consecrated in the 
sympathies and the terrors of the vicinity has been carefully 
preserved. Though now no longer tenanted by its aerial 
visitant, it yet spreads majestically its time-hallowed canopy 
over the spot, awakening in the lore-versed rustic when the 
winter's wind raves gusty and sonorous through its leafless 
boughs, the soul harrowing recollection of the exploits of the 
ancient fay ; but in the springtide beautiful with the full-flushed 
verdure of that exuberant season, and recipient of the kindling 


emotions of reverence and affection. It still bears the name of 
" Silky's seat," in memory of its once wonderful occupant. 

Silky exercised a marvellous influence over the brute creation. 
Horses, which possess a discernment of spirits superior to man, 
at least are more sharp-sighted in the dark, were in an extra- 
ordinary degree sensitive of her presence and control. She 
seems to have had a perverse pleasure in arresting these poor 
defenceless animals while engaged in their labours. When 
this misfortune occurred, there was no remedy brute force 
could devise ; expostulation, soothing, whipping, and kicking 
were all exerted in vain to make the restive beast resume the 
proper direction. The ultimate resource, unless it might be 
her whim to revoke the spell, was the magic-dispelling witch- 
wood (mountain ash), which was of unfailing efficacy. One 
poor wight, a farm servant, was once the selected victim of her 
frolics. He had to go to a colliery at some distance for coals, 
and it was late in the evening before he could return. Silky 
waylaid him at a bridge, a " ghastly, ghost-alluring edifice," 
since called " Silky's Brig," lying a little to the soutli of Black 
Heddon, on tho road between that place and Stamfordham. 
Just as he had reached " the height of that bad eminence," the 
keystone, horses and cart became fixed and immoveable as fate. 
And in that melancholy plight might both man and horses 
have continued — quaking, and sweating, and stock-still — till 
the morning light had thrown around them its mantle of pro- 
tection, had not a neighbouring servant come up to the rescue, 
who opportunely carried some of the potent witchwood about 
his person. On the arrival of this seasonable aid, the perplexed 
driver rallied his scattered senses, and the helpless animals being 
duly seasoned after the fashion prescribed on such occasions, he 
had the heartfelt satisfaction of seeing them apply themselves 
with alacrity to the draught ; and in a short time both he and 
the coals reached home in safety. Ever afterwards, however, 


as long as he lived, he took the precaution of rendering himself 
spell-proof, b}' being furnished with a quantity of witch-wood, 
by no means being disposed that Silky should a second time 
amuse herself at his expense and that of his team. 

She was capricious and wayward. Sometimes she installed 
herself in the office of that old familiar Lar, Brownie, but with 
characteristic misdirection, in a manner exactly the reverse of 
that useful species of hobgoblin. And here it may be remarked, 
that throughout her disembodied career, she can scarcely be said 
to have performed one benevolent action for the sake of its moral 
qualities. She had, from first to last, a latent hankering for 
mischief, and gloried in withering surprises and unforeseen 
movements. As is customary with that " sturdy fairy," as he is 
designated by the great English Lexicographer (1), her works 
were performed at night, or between the hours of sunset and 
daydawn. If the good old dames had thoroughly cleaned their 
houses, which country people make a practice of doing, 
especially on Saturdays, so that they may have a comfortable 
and decent appearance on Sunday, after they had retired to rest 
Silky would silently have turned everything topsy-turvy, and the 
morning presented a scene of indescribable confusion. On the 
contrary if the house had been left in a disorderly state, a plan 
which they generally found best to adopt, everything would 
have been arranged with the greatest nicety. 

At length a term had arrived to her erratic course, and both 
she and the peaceably disposed inhabitants whom she disquieted 
obtained the repose so long mutually desired. She abruptly 
disappeared. It had long been surmised by those who paid 
attention to those dark matters, that she was the troubled 
phantom of some person who had died very miserable in conse- 
quence of having great treasure, which before being overtaken 

(1) Journey to the Western Islands, p. 171. 


by her mortal agony had not been disclosed, and on that account 
she could not lie still in her grave ! About the period referred 
to a domestic servant, being alone in one of the rooms of a 
house at Black Heddon, was frightfully alarmed by the ceiling 
above suddenly giving way, and something quite black and 
. uncouth falling from it with a clash upon the floor. The servant 
did not stay an instant to examine it, but at once fled to her 
mistress screaming at the pitch of her voice, " The deevil's in 
the house ! The deevil's in the house ! He's come through the 
ceiling!" With this terrible announcement the whole family 
were convoked, and great was the consternation at the idea of 
the foe of mankind being amongst them in a visible form ; and 
a considerable time elapsed before airy one could brace up 
courage to face " the enemy," or be prevailed to go and inspect 
the cause of alarm. At last the mistress, who happened to be 
the most stout hearted, ventured into the room, when instead 
of the personage on account of whom such awful apprehensions 
were entertained, a great dog or calf's skin lay on the floor, 
sufficiently black and uncomely, but filled with gold. After 
this Silky was never more heard or seen. Her destiny was 
accomplished — her spirit laid — and she now sleeps with her 
ancestors as peacefully and unperturbed as do the degenerate 
and unenterprising ghosts of modern days.. 

Mr. Robert Kobson of Sunderland, county of Durham, com- 
municated rough notes whence this sketch has been composed. 
Another informant states that the house wherein this occurred 
was at the time occupied by the Hepples, respectable yeomen at 
the place, whose descendants are yet the proprietors, and who, 
it is said, acquired a considerable sum from Silky's long hidden 
treasure so unexpectedly brought to light. This has been im- 
puted to many other prosperous men besides Mr. Hepple, and 
not unfreqiicntly in a spirit of envy. Stephen Cochran, of 
Clippeiis, in Renfrewshire, presented his relative, Wm. Cock- 


burn, of Caldoun, the ancestor of the Dundonald family, with 
a large sum of money (it was said a skinful) for his good offices 
in freeing him from a malignant charge of witchcraft, and this 
was acknowledged by Thomas, the eighth earl, to have been the 
foundation of the family (2) . We are told by an old authority 
that " to labour and to be content with that a man hath is a 
sweet life ; but he that findeth a treasure is above them 
both" (3). 

Some points of folklore may be here illustrated. Trees that 
stretch their long arms across waterfalls, and flourish by main- 
taining a perpetual struggle with the powers of nature amidst 
elemental commotion, supply, it would appear, fit roosting places 
for the spirits of darkness, and the ominous birds concerned in 
their malpractices. 

" The heron came from the witch-pule tree," 

sings James Telfer ; and likewise Sir Walter Scott, 

" Where o'er the cataract the oak 
Lay slant, was heard the raven's croak." 

In Barskeogh Wood, near Dairy, on the water of Ken, in 
Galloway, " the clachan witches held their midnight revels by 
the light of the hunter's moon ; and the famed sister of Lowran 
Burn proudly rode on the branches of the forest ash that over- 
hangs the roaring linn of Earlston ; while the young noviciates 
in the mysteries of witchcraft merrily danced in the bosom 
of the pool beneath, amid the white spray of the dashing 
stream." Fairies, too, as Burns tells us, delight 

" to stray and rove 
Among the rocks and streams ; " 

(2) Mitchell and Dickie's Philosophy of Witchcraft, p. 386. 
Paisley, 1839. 

(3) Ecclesiasticus, c. xl. r. 18. 


and there has been heard amid the darkness " plitch platching 
as it were o' some hundreds o' little feet i' the stream ; when a' 
at yince the plitch -platching gae owre, and there was sic a queer 
eiry nicker, as o' some hundreds o' creatures laughin' cam frae 
the upper linn " (4). An old man in Wales had "often seen 
the fairies at waterfalls ; particularly at that of Sewyd yr Rhyd 
in Cwm Pergwm, Vale of Neath, where a road runs between 
the fall and the rock. As he stood behind the fall they appeared 
in all the colours of the rainbow, and their music mingled with 
the noise of the water" (5). The celebrated fall of the Liffey, 
in Ireland, near Ballymore Eustace, is named Pool-a-Phooka, 
or Puck's Hole (6). "The Russians believe in a species of 
water and wood maids called Rusalki. They are of a beautiful 
form, with long green hair; they swing and balance themselves 
on the branches of trees, bathe in lakes and rivers, play on the 
surface of the water, and wring their locks on the green meads 
at the water's edge" (7). 

The power of evoking a magic tempest, which was only 

" an enchanted show 
With which the eyes mote have deluded been," 

is one of the attributes of the beings not of this world. For thus 
Oberon attempted to deter Huon of Bordeaux from proceeding 
through the enchanted forest which offered the shortest passage 
to Babylon. " For before you have left the wood he will cause 
it so to rain on you, to blow, to hail, and -to make such right 
marvellous storms that you will think the world is going to 
end." But this was " nothing but a phantom and enchant- 

(4) It. White in Richardson's Table Bool:, Leg. Div., ii. 137. 

(5) Keightley's Fairy Mythology, p. 417. 

(6) Mil., ]>. 371. 

(7) //«'(/., i>. 191, from (irimm. 


ments" that the dwarf made (8). When the vicar of Dean 
Prior's (Devon) is about to lay a ghost in a deep hollow at the 
foot of a waterfall, called the Hound's Pool, as they enter the 
wooded valley, " it seemed as if all the trees in the wood ' were 
coming together,' so great was the wind "(9). It is said 
that the walls of Fyvie Castle, Aberdeenshire, had stood for 
seven years and a day, wall-wide, waiting for the arrival of 
True Tammas (Thomas the Rhymer) to pronounce their fate. 
" At length he suddenly appeared before the fair building, ac- 
companied by a violent storm of wind and rain, which stripped 
the surrounding trees of their leaves and shut the castle gates 
with a loud crash. But while the tempest was raging on all 
sides, it was observed that, close by the spot where Thomas 
stood, there was not wind enough to shake a pile of grass or 
move a hair of his head " (10). 

Silk, as a spirit-raiment, has had a strong charm for the 
popular mind, perhaps from its cleanliness being associated, like 
the snowy robe of the ghost, with ideas of purity and innocence ; 
or from its leaf-like fissle being judged akin to the tiptoe move- 
ment of unhappy souls. Dr. Dee's Ariel was " a spiritual 
creature, like a pretty girl of seven or nine years of age, attired 
on her head, with her hair rolled up before and hanging down 
behind, with a gown of silk, of changeable red and green, and 
with a train" (M).* Mr. Campbell, in his Highland Tales, 
vol. ii. p. 192, states that the miller's wife at Loch Xigdal, near 

(8) Keightley's Fairy Mythology, p. 39. 

(9) Folklore, N. and Q., p. 223. 

(10) Chambers' Rhymes of Scotland, p. 8. 

(11) Mack ay's Popular Delusions, i. p. 157. 

* Cowley, as translated, Book of Plants, B. I, says cf spirits: 
" Their subtle limbs silk, thin as air, arrays, 
And therefore nought their rapid journey stays." 


Skibo Castle, was one day favoured with a sight of the Banshie 
of the lake. " She was sitting on a stone, quiet, and beauti- 
fully dressed in a green silk dress, the sleeves of which were 
curiously puffed from the wrists to the shoulders." Among the 
wonderful relations of Glanvil, in his Saducismus Triumphalus, 
of the drumming demon of Tedworth, the man-servant " heard 
a rustling noise in his chamber, as if a person in silks was 
moving up and down ; " and the maids also heard one "that 
rustled about as if it had been dressed in silk/' The mansion 
house of Houndwood, in Berwickshire, has attached to it a 
family apparition called " Chappie." The servants were 
annoyed with its pertinacious visits even in the daytime. 
" Sometimes a knocking would be heard at the front door, 
and if anyone went to open it, nobody could be seen ; except on 
one occasion, when, on the servant opening the door, a grand 
lady rushed past, and went up the passage with a majestic gait, 
rustling in silks and satins ; but this lady was never afterwards 
seen, either within or without the house " (12). Denton Hall, 
near Newcastle, is regularly set down as haunted by a 
female clad in rustling silks, and the spirit or goblin or 
whatever it was that was embodied in these appearances was 
familiarly known by the name of Silky. " There is some obscure 
and dark rumour of secrets strangely obtained and enviously 
betrayed by a rival sister, ending in deprivation of reason and 
death; and the betrayer still walks by times in the deserted 
halls which she has rendered tenantless, always prophetic of 
disaster to those she encounters." " Midnight curtains have 
been drawn aside by an arm in rustling silk " (13). " The 
profligate Duke of Argyle, while residing at Chirton (near 

(12) Hondorson's Rhymes of Berwickshire, p. 73. 

(13) T. Doublcday in Richardson's Table Book, Leg. Div., iii. 
p. 315. 



North Shields), in the reign of William III., had a mistress 
who died very suddenly ; and, as the neighbouring gossips con- 
cluded she had been murdered, her spirit ever after took its 
nocturnal ramble, dressed in brown silk, in the shady avenue 
that leads to Shields ; but in modern times this troubled spirit 
seems to have retired to rest " (14). She is also said to have 
rendered the mansion house untenantable by means of unearthly 
noises. She is the third Silky on record. At Allanbank (or 
Bighouse) , in Berwickshire, there is a famous ghost, endued with 
similar attributes, called Pearlin' Jean. " In my vouth," says 
Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, " Pearlin' Jean was the most re- 
markable ghost in Scotland, and my terror when a child. Our 
old nurse, Jenny Blackadder, had been a servant at Allanbank, 
and often heard her rustling in silks up and down stairs and 
along the passages. She never saw her, but her husband did. 
She was a Frenchwoman, whom the first proprietor of Allan- 
bank, then Mr. Stuart, met with at Paris, during his tour to 
finish his education as a gentleman. Some people said she was 
a nun, in which case she must have been a sister of charity, as 
she appears not to have been confined to a cloister. After some 
time young Stuart either became faithless to the lady or was 
suddenly recalled to Scotland by his parents, and had got 
into his carriage, at the door of the hotel, when his Dido 
unexpectedly made her appearance, and, stepping on the 
fore-wheel of the coach to address her lover, he ordered the 
postillion to drive on ; the consequence of which was that the 
lady fell, and one of the wheels going over her forehead killed her. 
In the dusky autumnal evening, when Mr. Stuart drove under 
the arched gateway of Allanbank, he perceived Pearlin' Jean 
sitting on the top, her head and shoulders covered with blood. 
After this, for many years, the house was haunted ; doors shut 

(14) Mackenzie's Northumherland, ii. p. 456. 


and opened with great noise at midnight; the rustling of silks 
and the pattering of high-heeled shoes were heard in bedrooms 
and passages. Nurse Jenny said there were seven ministers 
called in at one time to lay the spirit, ' but they did no muckle 
good/ The picture of the ghost was hung up between those of 
the lover and his lady, and kept her comparatively quiet ; but 
when taken away she became worse-natured than ever. The 
ghost was designated Pearlin, from always wearing a great 
quantity of that sort of lace — a species of lace made of thread. 
Nurse Jenny told me that when Thomas Blackadder was her 
lover (I remember Thomas very well) they made an assignation 
to meet one moonlight night in the orchard at Allanbank. True 
Thomas, of course, was the first comer, and seeing a female in 
a light-coloured dress at some distance, he ran forward with 
open arms to embrace his Jenny ; when lo and behold ! as he 
neared the spot where the figure stood, it vanished ; and pre- 
sently he saw it again at the very end of the orchard, a 
considerable way off. Thomas went home in a fright; but 
Jenny, who came last, and saw nothing, forgavo him, and 
they were married. Many years after this, about the year 
1790, two ladies paid a visit to Allanbank — I think the house 
was then let — and passed the night there. They had never 
heard a word about the ghost ; but they were disturbed the 
whole night with something walking backwards and forwards in 
their bed-chamber. This I had from the best authority " (15). 
Sir Robert Stuart of Allanbank was created baronet in 1697, 
so that it must have been previous to that time that Jean died. 

We cannot assign to these traditions a far back date; although 
they refer to a period when silk, as an article of dress, was so 
seldom seen, that it took the attention in country places. We 
find a lady's silk dress in the Breton Lai of Ywenec. Ladies 

(l.'>) Mrs. Crowe's Night-side of Nature. 

N 2 


wore silk mantles at Kenilworth Castle in 1286 ; but it was 
not till the reign of James T., in England, that it came into 
general use. Massinger's " City Madam " wore 

" Sattin on solemn days, 
It being for the City's honour that 
There should be a distinction made between 
The wife of a patrician and a plebeian." 

In the time of Charles II. Secretary Pepys' wife dresses in a 
tabby or waved silk. In the year 1668 the tide of fashion set 
entirely in favour of French fabrics, so that it became a com- 
plaint that " the women's hats were turned into hoods made of 
French silk, whereby every maid-servant became a standing 
revenue to the French King of one-half of her wages " (16). 
This trade, we learn from the Guardian of September 25th, 
1713, was interrupted by Marlborough's wars; and it was 
apprehended that if peace was then concluded, " in all pro- 
bability half the looms in Spittlefields would be laid down, and 
our ladies be again clothed in French silk." " In the good old 
times," says Washington Irving, " that saw my aunt in the 
heyday of youth, a fine lady was a most formidable animal, and 
required to be approached with the same awe and devotion that 
a Tartar feels in the presence of the Grand Lama. If a gentle- 
man offered to take her hand, except to help her into a carriage, 
or lead her into a drawing-room, such frowns ! such a rustling of 
brocade and taffeta ! " (17). Hence the poets of these days in 
inviting from the court to the cottage, inquire in accents 
winning as they are musical : 

" O Nancy wilt thou go with me, 

Nor sigh to leave the flaunting tcwn ? 
Can silent glens have charms for thee, 

The lowly cot and russet gown ? 

(16) Silk Manufactures, p. 25. 

(17) Salmagundi, April 25, 1807. 


No longer drest in silken sheen, 

No longer deck'd with jewels rare, 
Say canst thou quit each courtly scene, 

Where thou wert fairest of the fair ? " 

In Scotland, the upper classes alone were privileged to 
" wear claithes of silk." Prohibitory edicts extend from 
the time of James I., 1429, down to 1673, in the reign 
of Charles II. In 1621 it was statuted " That no servants, 
men or women, weare any clothing, except those that are made 
of cloath, fusteans, canvas, or stuffs made in the countrey. And 
that they shall have no silk upon their cloathes ; except silk 
buttons, and button holes ; and silk garters without pearling or 
roses, under the paine of one hundreth markes, tolies qaoties." 
It thus was felt as a terrible offence to the aristocratic circles of 
Edinburgh, and became a town talk, when a girl of the city in 
1750 presumed to wear a silk gown ! (18). It was long before 
this innovation became general. Thus, about 1724, sings the 
" country lass : " 

" Although my gown be homespun grey, 
My skin it is as soft 
As them that satin weeds do wear, 
And carry their heads aloft." 

Silk dresses were inherited as heirlooms for generations. 

" For her gown some ancient matron quakes, 
Her gown of silken woof, all figured o'er 
With roses white, far larger than the life, 
On azure ground — her grandani's wedding garb, 
Old as the year' when Sherifl'muir was fought." 


I shall not venture to trace this luxury northwards into 
Northumberland. As we learn from the Spectator, July 

(18) Chambers' Traditions of Edinburgh, ii. p. 55. 


28, 1711, the fashions of the metropolis did not then travel 
rapidly as now, but crept by slow degrees into the pro- 
vinces. " A fashion makes its progress much slower into 
Cumberland than into Cornwall. I have heard in particular 
that the Steenkirk (neckcloth) arrived but two months ago at 
Newcastle, and that there are several commodes in those parts 
which are worth taking a journey thither to see." This at 
least we know, that a silk dress had reached North Shields in the 
reign of William III., and the degraded wearer, like a Scottish 
damsel two hundred years before her, paid the penalty of her 

" My kirtill was of lincum green, 

Weill lacit with silken passnients rair ; 

God gif I had nerer prideful been, 

For fadit is my yellow hair. 

" When I was young I had great stait, 
Weill cherishit baith with less and mair ; 
For shame now steill I off the gait, 
For fadit is my yellow hair ! " 

N.B. — In an article in the Transactions of the Tyneside 
Naturalists' Field-Club, for 1861, p. 93, on "Local Super- 
stititions at Stamfordham," bv the Rev. J. F. Bigge, M.A., it 
is said, " The renowned Silky has not been heard of for some 
years. I was once attending a very old woman, named 
Pearson, at Welton Mill, the foundations of which, if they exist, 
are at the bottom of one of the Whittle Dean reservoirs. The 
old woman told me, a few days before her death, that she had 
seen Silky the night before, sitting at the bottom of her bed, 
dressed in silk." 


The Gbay Man of Bet-lister. 

" An old rude ' tale ' that fitted well 
The ruin wild and hoary." 


It was at the gray of the evening twilight, about half a 
century ago, that a stripling held his way towards the castle of 
Bellister, with the view of entering into service there. Having 
crossed the Tyne at Haltwhistle, he found the darkness in- 
creasing fast ; and although the distance he had to travel was 
not great, yet in those days bad companions were more common 
than welcome on the unfrequented roads after nightfall. Leaving 
the ferry, he passed a thicket of willow bushes, and then his 
route lay along a broken road, which he had been directed to 
follow as that which would conduct him to the castle. He had 
not proceeded far when he descried a traveller at some little 
distance in advance ; a circumstance rather singular, as he had 
tarried for a few minutes at the ferry, and no one had come 
over for some time previous. The youth, a stranger in the 
place, and looking forward with solicitude towards the new 
scene of his labours, soon overcame the mysterious feeling, to 
which this idea gave rise, in the prospect of relief from his own 
anxious thoughts presented to him for some part of the journey. 
He therefore quickened his pace, and when sufficiently near 
shouted to the unknown individual to stop. But the stranger paid 
no regard — he neither stopped nor looked behind. The lad had 
now approached within a few yards, yet with the utmost exertion 
he could not overtake him ; for he passed forward with superhuman 
rapidity, gliding rather than walking over the surface. An un- 
pleasant sensation of fear crept over the youth, which was not a 
little increased, by a closer inspection, so far as the dubious 
lio-ht enabled, of the object of his misgivings. His head was 


uncovered, and his long hair hung behind, white as the frosts 
of winter. He was wrapt in a long gray cloak reaching to 
his heels, and he appeared to carry a small bundle under his 
arm, concealed by his upper vestments. So occupied had the 
youth been in the struggle, that he did not at first perceive that 
he had now reached the broken gateway of the old castle 
of Bellister. At the instant, when its dark mass became 
evident through the gloom, the mysterious figure unexpectedly 
stood still, and turning abruptly round upon the youth revealed 
the awful nature of the fellowship which he, in the simplicity 
of his heart, was so eager to obtain. Death had set his pallid 
seal on that grisly countenance, and a bloody gash that ran 
across it heightened the expression of ghastliness imprinted 
there ! The thick beard was dripping with blood, and the fore- 
part of the garments was dyed with the ensanguined stream. 
The being fixed its large lustreless eyes upon the youth, and 
pointing with a menacing scowl towards the dilapidated ruin 
melted silently away. 

It was a scene of the deepest horror. For some time he stood 
spell-bound to the spot, gazing into the vacant air that gave 
back no image, but extended itself in limitless expansion into a 
vast, terrible, all-absorbing gulf that seemed to invite him 
forward in pursuit of the dread, unsubstantial essences that 
roamed its dim and dismal depths. Rallying his scattered for- 
titude, his first idea was that of self-preservation. His new 
home was nigh, and thither, scarcely conscious of the action, he 
betook himself. The old mistress was the only one of the family 
within, and to her he revealed the horrifying apparition he had 
witnessed. The old lady was much concerned. Of the existence 
of a spirit near the place she was fully aware ; she had heard of 
it from others wiser and older than herself, members of a gene- 
ration of which there were now few survivors ; and there were 
several instances in which it had made itself visible to persons 


whom she well knew. Such a thing never occurred, she said, 
without some accompanying calamity, and when, as on the 
present occasion, there were manifested tokens of a vindictive 
disposition on the spirit's part, the danger was near and alarm- 
ing. It came to pass as the old lady feared and predicted. That 
very evening the unfortunate lad was seized with a severe 
illness, and before next morning was a corpse. 

When the castle was occupied by the Blenkinsops, its ma- 
norial lords, many, many centuries ago, a wandering minstrel, 
says tradition, sought the protection of its roof far on in the 
evening, and the humble request was granted, and the aged 
musician was invited to the family hearth. The days of high- 
souled chivalry and of generous feeling had not then departed, 
when, not yet knowing " the bleak freezings of neglect," the 
minstrol obtained a ready admittance to the society of the gentle 
and the august, and his tale and harp found favourable audience 
with all. 

" High placed in hall, a welcome guest, 

He poured to lord and lady gay, 

The unpremeditated lay." 

But the hospitable boon had not been long conceded ere dark 
suspicions began to rankle in the breast of the Lord of Bellister. 
He was at feud with a neighbouring boron, who scrupled not to 
employ the basest means for gratifying his rancour. In the 
appearance of this stranger, at such an untimely hour, there 
appeared to him some reason to dread the intrusion of a spy, or 
the disguised agent of his rival, to execute some revengeful plot. 
Distrust, therefore, sat upon the countenance of the baron,* and 

* " Some gentlemen of the north are called to this day barons," 
says Grey, in his Chorographia, 1649. The Blenkinsops of Bellister 
wore entitled to the designation of baron only in courtesy. By a 
similar token of respect the Whitfields of Whitfield, in the same 


as the cordiality with which he had been received declined, a 
visible constraint gathered over the minstrel's features, which 
soon communicated itself to the entire circle. 

" By fits less frequent from the crowd 
Was heard the burst of laughter loud. 
For still, as squire and archer stared 
On that dark face, and matted beard, 

Their glee and game declined." 

Hence it was with more than customary alacrity that the signal 
for withdrawal was obeyed. After the company had retired, 
the Lord of JBellister continued to pace his apartment, filled with 
perplexing anxieties. The image of the harper, too abject to 
justify his fears, still haunted him, and the oft experienced 
perfidy of his deadly foe. At length suspense rose into passion. 
He summoned his attendants and directed them to bring the 
harper into his presence. But how was every doubt and 
jealousy anew inflamed when they found the chamber that he 
had occupied empty, and the inmate gone ? Either he had 
augured treachery from his entertainer, or he was conscious 
that the guilty errand on which he had been sent was detected. 
In the mind of the baron his flight only served to confirm the 
unfavourable ideas that he had been led to conceive. The 
bloodhounds were ordered out, and instant pursuit after the 
fugitive commenced, the baron himself leading a band of his 
followers. The bloodhounds were soon upon his track, and 
rapidly outstripped the vengeance of their exasperated master. 
They came up with the poor old minstrel hard by the willow 

vicinity, transmitted to the latest generation the local title of yearl, 
i.e. earl ; which, after they became extinct, passed to Whitfield of 
Clargill, whose daughter and heiress — married to a Dr. Graham — 
was called Countess of Clargill. 


trees near the banks of the Tyne, and tore him to pieces before 
any of the party had reached him. 

Remorse for the barbarous outrage seized the baron, but the 
deed of violence was irremediable. Whenever after the sunset 
hour he took his way to the castle the fate of the hapless 
minstrel rose in terror before his eyes, ana the visible shape of 
the murdered man attended him home. The baron slept with 
his fathers, and likewise all that race. But the injured spirit 
still frequented its ancient circuit — unsatisfied and unappeased. 
At some periods it was more than usually outrageous ; its 
efforts to attract notice became more assiduous, and the 
appearances that it assumed more terrific. This agitation and 
inquietude were always found to be the prelude of some im- 
pending misfortune to the house of Bellister and its dependents, 
between whose fate and its own there had been induced an 
inseparable bond.* 

* Similar to this is the Irish and Gaelic superstition of the Banshee, 
or attendant fairy-wife of families of the pure stock, whose office it 
was to announce, by her wailing, the approaching death of some one 
of the destined race. 

" To me, my sweet Kathleen, the Benshce has cried, 
And I die — ere to-morrow I die ; 
This rose thou hast gathered, and laid by my side 
Will live, my child, longer than I " 


According to Delrio, a spectral woman in mourning attire was wont 
to appear in the castle of an illustrious family in Bohemia previous to 
the death of its mistress. The Macleans of Loch Buy are thus 
premonished by the spirit of one of their ancestors. " Before the 
death of any of his race, the phantom chief gallops along the sea- 
lieach near to the castle, announcing the event by cries and lamenta- 
tions" (Scott's Demanvloyt/, &v., p. 341.) Thus also the family of 


The Gray Man no longer appears at Bellister nor traverses 
the broken pathway near which the clump of willows still 
responds in sad murmurs to the wizard blast of evening. But 
Bellister and its vicinity continue to be a haunted and forbidden 
place after nightfall. The rustic passes it with a beating heart ; 
the schoolboy's bravery is over and his merriment hushed till 
it is by ; and the rider, trusting neither his eye nor his ear, 
applies the spur to his steed and hurries past. The dread of an 
unexpiated crime and of a mystery unrevealed hangs unlifted 
from the spot ; and nature, as she spreads .the pall of midnight 
over the lonesome way and the gloomy ruin, and as the sweep 
of the rushing river combines with the moaning breeze and the 
owl's funeral scream, seems to sympathise with the peasant's 
awe and approve his reverence for the life of a fellow-being. 

The jottings of this Northumbrian ghost story were com- 
municated by Mr. William Pattison, a native of the district in 
which the castle is situated. Bellister Castle stands on an 
artificial mount, on the southern side of the Tyne, opposite to 

Rothiemurcus had the Bodach na Dun, or the Ghost of the Hill ; 
Kinchardine the Spectre of the Bloody Hand — 

" With Highland broad sword, targe, and plaid, 
And fingers red with gore." 

Gartinbeg House was haunted by Bodach Gartin, and Tulloch Gorm 
by Maug Molaeh, or the Girl with the Hairy Left Hand (Pennant). 
And like to these were the " White Lady of the House of Branden- 
burg," and the fairy Melusine, who usually prognosticated the 
recurrence of mortality to sonic noble family of Poitou. Prince, in 
his Worthies of Deron, records the appearance of a white bird per- 
forming the same office for the worshipful lineage of Oxenham 
(Croker's Fairy Legends, p. 126). Brand identifies these with 
wraiths, but they had a general commission, whereas the "warning 
spirit " was a family appurtenance. 


Haltwhistle, and was surrounded by a broad fosse. It has been 
an irregular structure, and now consists of a rude and 
crumbling mass of ruins, overshadowed by an enormous 
sycamore. Being the seat of a younger branch of the Blenkin- 
sops, it was the property of Thomas Blenkinsop 1553, and of 
George 1568. At present the castle and estate belong to the 
Bacon family.* 

* Mackenzie's Northumberland, ii. p. 316. 



Legexds of Nafferton. 

There are two legends about Nafferton ; one to Nafferton 
Castle, or Nafferton Old Hall, built by Philip de Ulecote, 
concerns Long Lonkin ; the other, located at Nafferton Hall, a 
more recent structure, is a ghost story of a murdered pedlar. 

Nafferton, in the parish of Ovingham, "lies immediately 
north of Ovington, from which it is separated by a small stream 
which joins the rivulet flowing through Whittle Dean." Philip 
de Ulecote, a favourite of King John, commenced the erection 
of the castle, taking the materials from the Roman wall in the 
vicinity. He was not permitted to finish the structure, and the 
dismantled ruin still remains much in the same state in which 
it was left by the workmen in 1217. " The building consisted 
of a keep, twenty feet square, and two outer balies, of moderate 
dimensions, placed on the summit of a gentle slope. There was 
no natural protection on the west, nor would it have been easy 
to make one of a formidable character. At present the remains 
of Philip de Ulecote's castle lie screened from passing observa- 
tion by the surrounding plantations ; though it is probable that 
in the winter season they may be discerned through the leafless 
trees as the traveller journeys along the high road contiguous, 


leading from Haddon-on-the-Wall to Corbrirlge." * I am 
informed that the moat can be traced on three sides of the 

It is with this ruin that the Northumbrian version of the 
" Ballad of Lammikin," corrupted into Long Lonkin, has 
acquired a local association. As the cattle never was inhabited, 
unless as forming a receptacle of robbers, the popular tradi- 
tion which I have to relate is manifestly apocryphal in so far 
as it relates to Nafferton. The following narratives relating to 
both mansions I obtained in 1844 from an old man named 
Forster, in Newcastle, the descendant of one of the tenants of 
the Derwentwater family. 

A lady, courted by a gentleman named Long Lonkin (whom 
the Northumbrian ballad makes a moss-trooper), preferred the 
lord of Nafferton, whose circumstances made him a more 
desirable match. One child blessed the marriage. Long 
Lonkin vowed to be revenged, and, to accomplish his purpose, 
attached to his interest the child's maid, with whom he con- 
certed his measures. His vengeance was most bitter, for he 
had determined to stab both the mother and her offspring. It 
happened that the lord of the place had occasion to proceed to 
London on business, and Lonkin, apprised of his approaching 
absence, came in the evening and was admitted by the 
treacherous maid. Tn order to induce the lady to descend 
from an upper chamber, by the advice of the maid he pricked 
the child till it cried, and then a second time till it screamed. 
The mother called down to the maid to appease the child, but 
she exclaimed that she could not — she would have to come 


" I can't still him ladie, 
Till you come down yoursell." 

* Hartshorne's Memoirs of the History and Antiquities of Northum- 
berland, ii. pp. 237, 238, 


Lonkin pricked the child a third time, and the poor mother 
appeared on the scene, and was killed as well as her child. 

The Lord of Nafferton had not proceeded far on his journey 
when an impression took hold of his mind that all was not 
right at home; Two of the ballads tell how this alarm was 
created. The rings on his fingers were bursting in twain, and 
the silver buttons of his coat would not stay on. Returning 
with all speed, he called to the servants within to let down the 
drawbridge, and it being done he was admitted. When Long 
Lonkin heard the noise of the coach passing over the bridge he 
sought means to escape ; but the bridge was secured, and as he 
could not get across the moat he fled to a dean below the castle, 
in which flows the Whittle Burn, and took refuge in a large 
tree that overhung a deep pool in the water. When the lord 
of the place entered his apartments a horrible scene of carnage 
was revealed, and the guilty maid did not conceal by whose 
agency it had been effected. The murderer was sought for the 
whole night, but it was not till morning that he was detected, 
concealed among the tree branches. The outraged husband 
called on him to descend, but he refused. He then threatened 
to shoot him if he did not surrender, but Lonkin recklessly 
leapt into the black boiling pool beneath, and sunk, never to 
rise. This pool, now called Long Lonkin's Pool, the country 
people declare is bottomless. A good swimmer had dived into 
it from the crags on both sides and had found no bottom, and 
it was only by great exertions that he escaped the fate of 
Lonkin. Some suppose that there is a spring at the bottom of 
it, for in the extremest cold it is never frozen over ; but this 
circumstance others account for from a weill, or continuous 
eddy, being in the middle of it. Long Lonkin's tree was cut 
down thirty or forty years previous to 1844. 

There are at least seven versions of the ballad relating to this 
" ogre," as Professor Aytoun designated Lonkin, or Lammikin, 


with a variety of other aliases. In most of these the murderer 
is hanged, and his accomplice is burned at the stake. In one 
he is " boiled in a pot full of lead." The Scots versions make 
Lammikin the architect of a castle ; sometimes it is Buncle 
Castle, Berwickshire, " Lord Weire's Castle," " Lord Wearie's 
Castle," the Castle of " Balwearie," " Prime Castle," which 
he built up, but for his labour "payment got nane." It was 
for this wrong that he " brewed the black revenge " that 
wrought out such a fatal catastrophe. 

The New Hall at Nafferton, according to the narrator's 
statement, was for a time an occasional residence * of the 
Derwentwater (Radcliffe) family, who left it for Dilston Hall, 
after its re-edification in 1768. When this old man was 
acquainted with it, it had become a farmhouse. When occu- 
pied by one in that line of life, strange things were seen about 
the place, and most unaccountable noises were heard. The 
apparitions were most rampant when a child was to be born, 
or any one was to die, or as preliminaries to any fatal accident, 
and they took the forms of a white weasel, a white hen, 
or a white rabbit, and sometimes of a person without the 
head dressed in white. Rappings were customary at the 
windows, and uproars in various quarters mingled with loud 
shrieks. Doors would open without cause, and would 
not shut. The farmer, who appears to have been a recent 
incomer, accommodated himself to these disturbances as best 
ho could, till one night they became insufferable. He slept in 

* I merely give the narrator's statement, and I am not sure of its 
accuracy. In 1677 Allan Swinburne, of Nafferton, gent, was a 
Roman Catholic recusant (Depositions from York Castle, Surtees 
Soc, p. 228). Dec. 19, 1688, Edmond Johnson, a Roman Catholic 
priest, depones that he was received in that month at Mr. 
Swinburn's, of Naferton (p. 280). 

VOL,. II. o 


an upper room near the " leads." From the door of this room 
a stair conducted to the " leads," round which one could walk, 
access being obtained to this outer area by another door at the 
stair-top. On this occasion the commotion became so active 
that he afterwards declared, in consonance with his agricultural 
ideas, that if ever so many " trace-chains " had been trailed 
across the floor, they would not have created a noise so aggra- 
vating. As if this was not sufficient, something Like a skeel * 
or cog turned on its side commenced rolling down the stairs 
on the outside, and played " bump " against the door of his 
room, as if it would smash it to pieces. The noise inside 
appeared to proceed from and retire to a cavity in his room 
covered by a hearthstone, called the " Priest's Hole." To 
ascertain that no one had entered from the leads, he went up 
the stair and examined the door above, but found it shut. 
When he returned again to his sleeping apartment, the advanc- 
ing and retreating noises recommenced in the direction of the 
Priest's Hole. Determined to be at the bottom of this annoy- 
ance, he called his brother to his assistance there and then, and 
they took up the hearthstone. Beneath it there was an accu- 
mulation of rubbish, broken bricks, &c, as if it had been in- 
tentionally filled up. They got a spade and a bag, and emptied 
the space of its contents, until they reached a flagged recess, 
surrounded at the sides by a stone seat. This was the hiding- 
place of the priest on any dangerous emergency, and there 
generally was one of these concealed compartments in the 
houses of the gentry of the old Roman Catholic persuasion. 
The operators having cleared this out were about to desist, 

* Skeel, a cylindrical wooden vessel for carrying milk or water, 
with an upright handle made of one of the staves in of a 
bow. Isl. " Skiola," a milk-pail. Sw. " Skal," "a bowl. — Bro.ckett's 


for there was nothing in this to account for the noises, but they 
imagined that they twice heard a voice urging them to dig on. 
On striking the flags of the floor, one sounded as if covering a 
hollow ; and on removing this they gained access to a second 
apartment, stuffed with shavings and stable manure. This was 
also flagged, and pursuing similar tactics, they were admitted 
to a third place of retreat, which was in like manner filled with 
shavings and " horse muck ; " and while emptying it they came 
upon a shirt and a nightcap. The shirt was all bloody where 
the bowels in a living body would have been situated when it 
was worn. There was no skeleton nor any human remains ; 
but there was an oven, in which any vestige of humanity might 
have been consumed. It is needless to comment on the unlike- 
lihood of the articles of clothing being neglected by those who 
took so many precautions to have their crime concealed. Tho 
material of the shirt when taken up appeared like new linen, 
and the farmer was going to send it to the factor, but when he 
tried it, after being exposed to the atmosphere, it had become 
like " burnt tinder." 

The farmer now began to question an old man who had long 
dwelt at the place if there could be any reasonable explanation 
of what ho had witnessed. The old man thought there was. In 
the interval between the Radcliffes' occupancy and its being 
converted into a farmhouse, and that was a considerable time 
before this occurrence, a man had kept an inn in the hall, and 
let out the rooms for the accommodation of shooters during the 
fowling season. Once on a time there came a "pethcrt," or 
pedlar, to lodge there, who having never more been heard 
tell of, there were strong surmises of his having been murdered, 
and many of the old coal-pits thereabouts were searched for his 
body, without any result. When suspicion had been allayed, it 
was observed that the innkeeper's daughters began to dress in 
garments made of an expensive material, which girls in their 

o 2 


station were not in the habit to wear, but which corresponded 
with some of those which the missing packman had been 
accustomed to carry. But this elevation was but transient; 
" they did little good ; everything went against them, and they 
became ruined," said the old man, with a satisfied air, in sum- 
ming up. 

A well-told story of a pedlar murdered in a lone farmhouse 
above Rothbury, whose ghost haunted the perpetrator to her 
dying day, may be seen in W. A. Chatto's Rambles on the 
Scottish Border, pp. 93, 94. James Hogg in one of his ballads 
gives the tale of the murder of the " Thirlestane Pedlar," and its 
singular discovery. Thirlestane is situated near Primside 
Loch, Yetholm. Mr. Robert White, of date October 17th, 
1861, writes : " Similar stories to that of the Thirlestane Pedlar 
exist in Northumberland. Tradition speaks of a packman being 
murdered in the same way at Ray Mill, near Whelpington. 
Poor fellows ! they would for the most part have some money 
and goods upon them ; and this might induce rogues to deprive 
them of life, more especially as the cruel deed might not easily 
be discovered. 



" Oh ! make his tomb where mortal eye, 
Its buried wealth may ne'er descry. 
Years roll away — oblivion claims 
Her triumph o'er heroic names ; 
And hands profane disturb the clay 
That once was fired with glory's ray ; 
And avarice from their secret gloom, 
Drags even the treasures of the tomb. ! 


" What hath the miner found ? 
Relic or treasure, giant sword of old, 
Gems bedded deep, rich veins of burning gold ? " • 


" This is fairy gold, boy, and 'twill prove so We are lucky, boy, 
and to be so still requires nothing but secresy." 

Shakespeare's " Winter's Tale." 

" The taste for gold everywhere precedes the desire of instruction, 

and a taste for researches into antiquity." 


A large stone in the middle of a field, or laid in cumbrous 
bulk by a pathway side, has little to commend itself to the 
attention of the passer-by beyond the conjectures that may be 
raised as to the causes that have detached such a huge mass 
from its parent, rock and conveyed it to the situation that it 


occupies. To the individuals, however, under whose recogni- 
tion it has habitually fallen during a lifetime spent in its neigh- 
bourhood, it possesses an interest due to something more than 
to a mere aggregation of unconscious matter transported from 
its parent site by some unknown operation of nature. Besides 
serving as the emblem that recalls many a scene of youthful 
frolic — many an hour of " perfect gladsomeness " spent around 
its base in the " careless hour," which even to the busiest 
affords a lucid interval — it, in all likelihood, has become inter- 
woven with their higher principles, the reverence with which 
they regard things of ancient date, and the veneration attached 
to the works and memories of their sires. These sympathies it 
has enlisted in its favour from certain presumed purposes it 
may have served in the economy of their remote ancestors, or 
from some history " passing strange," of which it is the 
memorial. Perhaps it stands as one of those primitive land- 
marks, which it would be sacrilege to remove ; perhaps it is the 
trophy of some old battlefield, memorable in proportion to the 
carnage with which it was bedewed and the obstinacy with 
which it was contested ; perhaps reared by the might of armies 
over the tomb of some ancient chieftain whose " soul brightened 
in danger " — in the days of yore, ere an oblivious generation 
had forgotten the story — it bore a name " at which the world 
grew pale ; " or perhaps it was the rude and unhewn altar 
on which, during the days of heathen idolatry, the Druid 
priest offered cruel and detestable sacrifice to sanguinary 
divinities, and from the recesses of the sacred grove, with 
which it might have been environed, promulgated his de- 
crees of horror and of blood. The general opinion, however, 
with regard to any unusually bulky stone which the strength 
and means of the agriculturist cannot remove beyond the 
precincts of his field, or which, variegated with the accumulated 
lichens of centuries, catches the eye in solitary massiveness 


upon the waste, is that it marks the spot where " bones of 
mighty chiefs lie hid " — men who, like the northern Vikings, 
had their ill-gotten booty inhumed with them in order that 
their posterity, with no other heritage than the sword, might 
not indulge in disgraceful inaction, or sully the fierce fame of 
their ruthless race. It is also an accredited belief that, in the 
troublous times with which past history teems, many people 
were constrained to adopt the means of concealment, which the 
coverts of such stones offered, to secure their valuables from 
marauding Dane, or Scot, or Pict, or Saxon, till more pros- 
perous times should dawn, and they, coming back from long 
exile or from the battlefield, should possess their patrimonial 
property in peace. But the expected calm returned not — or 
the owner having fallen in distant lands, the prospect of his 
native scenes never gladdened his bosom more ; and his 
relinquished wealth lies mouldering and gathering dross in the 
fields from which hard industry had wrung it, excluded from 
all benefits that it might confer as a portion of the circulating 

In consequence of such various surmises, while these stones 
on some occasions awaken misgivings from the wild tales asso- 
ciated with them, they have likewise become themes of livelier 
interest, from the incentives that they supply to avarice, as 
being the depositories of unsunned treasures. But fearful bar- 
riers, sufficient to deter the devoutest champion in the cause of 
Mammon, separate the eagerness of adventurers and " the all- 
wished for gold." Argus-eyed monsters, more hideous and 
dread than Demogorgon, have had it entrusted to their vigilant 
superintendence, and spells which baffle human ingenuity and 
might to unlock have interposed their potent seal against all 
attempts to recall the buried stores to their legitimate purposes. 
And even though these bugbears be disregarded as fictions of 
a terrified imagination, the uncertainty of money-finding is so 


proverbial, and the indications of its existence are so deceptive, 
that even the most enthusiastic votary of the trade seldom 
ventures upon its practice without some more certain intima- 
tions than the floating traditions of a past age. How then shall 
it be determined that his labour shall not be disconcerted — the 
true period for securing the prize has arrived — and that his 
hopes are not placed on perishable foundations? The usual 
intelligence of this fact, leaving out of view the aid of the 
diviner's wand, which with magnetic certainty vibrates to the 
emanations evolved from its sympathetic metal, is obtained by 
dreams — three unvarying dreams, and the mind is set at rest 
as to every circumstance connected with the accomplishment of 
its desires ! 

Out of the tales that tradition has preserved of endeavours 
after stone-concealed riches, two may be selected, in neither of 
which the lords of the manor were entitled to lay claim to 
treasure trove. 

In a field near Meldon, a favourite site in the records of local 
treasure quests, was placed a large stone, under which a person 
named James Gillies dreamt successively there was hid a box 
of a three- sided figure filled with gold. James was unfor- 
tunately destitute of one of the prime qualities of an adept in 
money explorations — the capacity of being " sworn to deepest 
secrecy." Recognising no merit in privacy or concealment, 
whatever event of novelty occurred to him was invariably 
uppermost, and what could better attract a wondering auditory 
than a revelation of his unrivalled vision? Henne it became 
blazed abroad and reached the ears of more individuals than 
even he would have been willing to entrust it to, who made no 
scruple of appropriating to their own private account the infor- 
mation so obligingly furnished. The instances in which the 
nocturnal hints were repeated became at length so frequent that 
James, who was always a great loiterer, resolved to make a 


complete story of his materials by exploring the " golden 
harvest," which assuredly fortune had been devising for him, as 
the result of such incessant importunities. Arrived at the spot, 
he found indeed the stone, as the dream had represented, but it 
had been violently wrenched from its position, and upon ex- 
amining its former resting-place he beheld in the midst a 
triangular pit that bore, moulded upon its sides, the impression 
of some more solid nucleus having once existed there of suffi- 
ciently ample size to satisfy the wishes of the most eager aspirant 
after a competency of the world's riches ; but the " pose " was 
gone, the coffer had vanished, while to the garrulous dreamer 
there remained nothing but the mortification of having the prize 
snatched from him because he could not hold his peace. 

" But not a word of it, 'tis fairies' treasure ; 
Which, but reveal'd, brings on the blabber's ruine." 

Massinger's Fatall Dowry. 

A money coffer of a triangular shape is not a Northumbrian 
peculiarity, for Hogg, in his Winter Evening Tales, has related 
a tradition of a " three neukit stane like a cockit hat," under 
which was hid a purse or pose — the scene being Kelso Bridge 
(London Bridge according to other authorities) . 

In the fields between Lilburn and Middleton rests a stone 
which, in the suggestions of the " Beligio loci," is not to be 
removed while the present system of things maintains its 
stability. Two hinds, with more than the intrepidity of their 
class, resolved to explore the mystery that it shrouded and 
enrich themselves by one energetic stroke. Accordingly, when 
the shades of night had fallen and nature had sunk to repose, 
having provided themselves with mattocks and spades, thev, 
without informing any one, and without waiting for the cus- 
tomary warnings, repaired to the scene of enterprise and com- 
mciieed their daring operations. They had already penetrated 


to a considerable depth without any manifestations of danger, 
each fresh spadeful of earth communicating invigorated energy 
to their arms, and reinspiring them with hope ; and they had 
begun to flatter themselves that the oft-repeated tale of 
demoniac watchers over the treasures that slumbered beneath 
was but a vain chimera which ignorance had conjured up, 
when all at once one of them heard a low fluttering, as of some- 
thing struggling to get free, come from beneath the stone. He 
communicated his impressions to his coadjutor, but as the sound 
had not reached him, he received but a rude banter to reassure 
him. He again resumed the work, when suddenly a repeated 
movement from below shot a pang of terror to the heart of both. 
One of them still persisted in disturbing the precincts of the 
fated stone ; but scarcely had he removed the unhallowed soil 
when the stone commenced moving up and down violently, and 
out there issued from under it— and the earth quaked to let it 
forth — a creature all in white, in figure like a swan, that 
" flaffered and flew," and made such strange and hideous 
outcry that the delinquents, casting down their implements, 
hurried off, each in the direction his terrors prompted him would 
farthest carry him from the grasp of the evil thing which his 
unhallowed doings had evoked from the recesses of the earth, 
and whose rage no human power might avail to appease. The 
sanctuary of the stone was ever afterwards inviolate. Fixed in 
its pristine position it still draws the dread and reverence of all 
the swains in its vicinity who have not yet learned to under- 
value the opinions and belief of their simple progenitors. 

The immovable stone has its representative elsewhere. On 
a hillside at Chertsey, in Surrey, " lies a huge stone of gravel 
and sand which they call the devil's stone, and believe it cannot 
be moved, and that a treasure is hid underneath." * 

* Aubrey's Natural History and Antiquities of Surrey. 


In a letter from the famous astrologer, Dr. John Dee, 
to Lord Burghley, dated 3rd October, 1574, he says that 
" of late, I have byn sued unto by diverse sorts of people, 
of which some by vehement iterated dreams, some by vision 
(as they have thought), other by speche forced to their 
imagination by night, have byn informed of certayn places 
where Threasor doth lye hid : which all, for feare of Kepars 
(as the phrase commonly nameth them), or for mistrust of truth 
in the places assigned, and some for other causes, have forborn 
to deal farder, unleast I should corage them or cownseile them 
how to procede." * In Ireland " the popular opinions with 
respect to hidden treasures are that they are generally under 
the guardianship of spirits who assume various hideous shapes 
to affright mortals who seek to discover them. Several of the 
great lake serpents and water-cows of the Irish Fairy Mythology 
are supposed to guard treasures ; in some instances black cats 
are similarly employed." t Near Gunnarton, in North 
Tynedale, is a remarkable British earthwork, called the " Money 
Hill," from the local tradition of a dragon-guarded hoard of 

It is the general opinion, worthy of notice as respects the 
acknowledged supremacy of industry in contributing to success 
in the pursuits of life, that few of those who have endeavoured 
to enrich themselves by waiting upon such accidents of fortune, 
in preference to engaging in a lawful calling, have received 
special benefit from the riches thence derived. Illusory as 
fairy treasures they have gone away from their possessors with- 

* Sir H. Ellis's Letters of Eminent Literary Men, p. 36. 

\ Wilde's Irish Popular Sujierstitions, p. 98. 

J Rev. G. It. Hall in Arch. JEliana, N. S., Tiii. p. 66 ; also vol. 
vii. p. 12. It was opened in 1865, and afforded only a negative 


out their enjoying any perceptible advantage from them. No 
one has ever come to good who searched for gold, say the 
Italians. As a maxim applicable to the bulk of mankind, it is 
undeniable that opulence easily and unexpectedly procured 
leaves its thoughtless obtainer in even a worse state of wretched- 
ness than his original poverty. 

" For as lie got it freely, so 
He spends it frank and freely too.'" 

There are, however, individuals, exceptions from the crowd, 
in whom prosperity, instead of exciting them to a prodigal 
profusion, or conduct incompatible with their previous steady 
attention to the duties of their station, only generates increased 
exertions, in order to be found worthy of the eminence to 
which they have unexpectedly attained. By this moderate 
procedure, any unforeseen efflux of wealth becomes so moulded 
and incorporated with the products of their prudently acquired 
gains, that it participates in the blessing which will sooner or 
later reward the efforts of patient and well-bestowed diligence. 
As an illustration of these remarks a popular story may be 
cited, of which the occurrences happened about eighty years 
ago, and have, according to the relator's account, the testimony 
of living and faithful witnesses. 

A farm-steading situated near the borders of Northum- 
berland, a few miles from Haltwhistle, was occupied at 
the period to which we refer by a family of the name of 

W k n. In front of the dwelling house, and at about 

sixty yards' distance, lay a stone of vast size, as ancient, for so 
tradition amplifies the date, as the Flood. On this stone, at 
the dead hour of the night, might be discerned a female 
figure, wrapped in a groy cloak, with one of those low- 
crowned black bonnets so familiar to our grandmothers 
upon her head, incessantly knock ! knock ! knocking in a 


fruitless endeavour to split the impenetrable rock. Duly as 
night came round she occupied her lonely station in the same 
low, crouching attitude, and pursued the dreary obligations of 
her destiny till the grey streaks of the dawn gave admonition to 
depart. From this, the only perceptible action in which she 
engaged, she gained the name of " Nelly the Knocker." So 
perfectly had the inmates of the farmhouse, in the lapse of time 
which will reconcile sights and events the most disagreeable and 
alarming, become accustomed to Nelly's undeviating nightly 
din, that the business of life went forward unimpeded by any 
apprehension accruing from her presence. Did the servant- 
man make his punctual resort to the neighbouring cottages, 
he took the liberty of scrutinising Nelly's antiquated garb, 
that varied not with the vicissitudes of seasons, or pried sym- 
pathisingly into the progress of her monotonous occupation ; 
and though her pale, ghostly, contracted features gave a 
momentary pang of terror that unhinged the courage of the 
boldest, it was rapidly effaced in the vortex of good fellowship 
into which he was speedily drawn. Did the lover venture an 
appointment with his mistress at the rustic stile of the stack- 
garth, Nelly's unwearied hammer, instead of proving a barrier, 
only served by imparting a grateful sense of mutual danger to 
render more intense the raptures of the hour of meeting. So 
apathetio were the feelings cherished towards her, and so little 
jealousy existed of her power to injure, that the relator of these 
circumstances states that on several occasions she has passed 
Nelly at her laborious toil without evincing the least flutter of 
the nerves, beyond a hurried step, as she stole a glance at the 
inexplicable form. An event, in the course of years, disclosed 
the secrets which that marvellous stone enshrined, and drove 
poor Nelly for ever from the scene so inscrutably linked with 
her fate. Two of the sons of the farmer were rapidly approach- 
ing maturity, when one of them, more reflecting and shrewd, 


suggested the idea of relieving Nelly from her avocation, and 
of taking possession of the legacy to which she was evidently 
and urgently summoning. He proposed, conjointly with his 
father and brother, to blast the stone, as the most expeditious 
mode of obtaining access to her arcana ; and this in the open 
daylight, in order that any tutelary protection she might be 
disposed to extend to her favourite haunt might, as she was 
a thing of darkness and the night, be effectually countervailed. 
Nor were they disappointed, for upon clearing away the earth 
and fragments that resulted from the explosion, there was 
revealed a cluster of urns, closely packed together, containing 
gold. Anxious that nothing should transpire, they had taken 
the precaution in the meanwhile to despatch the female servant 
a needless errand, and ere her return the whole was efficiently 
and without suspicion secured. And so completely did they 
succeed in keeping their own counsel, and so successfully did 
their reputation keep pace with the cautious production of their 
undivulged treasures, that for many years afterwards they were 
never suspected of gaining any advantage from Nelly's " knock- 
ing " ; their improved appearance and the somewhat imposing 
figure they made in their little district being solely attributed to 
their superior judgment and to the good management of their 
lucky farm. As Lilly the adept says, " Secrecy and intelligent 
operators, with a strong confidence and knowledge of what they 
are doing, are best for this work." * 

The " Knocker " is a Welsh spirit, little statured, about half 
a yard long, who indicates to the workmen in the mines the rich 
veins of silver and gold. The buccas or knockers are also be- 

* Lives of Lilly and Ashmole, p. 48. Mr. J. P. Campbell, 
author of the West Highland Tales, on reading this in 1862, remarks: 
" The same story is now current of a farmer near Skipness. It is but 
a popular tale, I suspect." 


lieved to inhabit the rocks, caves, adits, and wells of Cornwall.* 
Such also is the German Wichtlein, the " swart fairy of the 
mine." f Thus widely scattered are the relics of pagan 
beliefs, from the common home, whence they diverged in the 
far back ages. 

Far up in the bleak moorland hollow that divides the tail- 
ridges of Hedgehope and " the wild Dunmore," half concealed 
by rank heath and the gray mountain mosses, half sunk in the 
yielding peaty soil, hard by a fretful rivulet, bordered by its 
narrow stripe of emerald grass and rushes, stands the decayed 
Druid Circle of Three-stone Burn. It consists of a single circle 
of rude, unequal, porphyritic stones, placed in an oval, whose 
diameter from west to east is 38, and from north to south 33 
yards. The stones are about eight or nine yards distant, but 
there are many gaps occasioned by the stones having been over- 
turned, or having disappeared in the ground, during the lapse 
of ages. Whether they once enclosed an area dedicated to 
religious observances, or formed the thingstead for determining 
the controversies among the rude tribes, the foundations of 
whose circular abodes, whose still open peat diggings, and 
whose plots of corn ground, laid out in antique fashion, still 
occupy, undisturbed, many a slope and depression of that 
hilly region, is immaterial to our present theme. J It 

* Hunt's Popular Romances of the West of England, p. 88. 

t Grose. Brand's Pop. Ant., ii. pp. 276, 283. 

| A British townlet, with several camps, attendant tumuli, and 
hollow ways, as well as patches of ancient tillage ground, is situated 
by the side of the footpath leading from Middleton to Uderton-Dodd 
shepherd's house ; and similar remains are frequent elsewhere on the 
hills around, denoting a former dense population. There are also 
cyclopean walls on the margin of the burn, near the ruinous circle. 
Old peat mosses exist far up on the back of Cunnion, opposite to 
Three-stone Burn, excavated not in modern times, but ascribed to the 


consisted once, tradition rumoured, of 12 stones, but only 
11 of them were visible, and it was foretold that when- 
ever the 1 2th was found, a fortune in money would reward the 
lucky discoverer. The present worthy tenant, at the head of a 
company of hay-makers, whose work in the adjacent haining 
had been interrupted by a shower, instituted a search after the 
missing pillar, and lo ! instead of twelve there were thirteen 
stones. Thirteen is always an unlucky number, so his pains- 
taking was unremunerated. Perhaps he was not aware that 
Druid money is only bestowed by reversion in the world to 
come.* This fact, however, came to light, that all the 
prostrate stones had fallen from the west, but the cause of this 

dwellers thereabouts in the days of old. Ground broken by like 
ancient peateries has also been observed on the heights behind 
Yeavering Bell. Other relics are a horn, not differing from that of 
the present domestic cattle found while cutting turf for fuel to the 
south of Three-stone Burn House, and " a sharping stone," lying 
18 inches deep, near a place called the Prashy Syke. The stone may 
have sunk to that depth, but the place was dry and covered with 
heath when it was found imbedded in peat. It is of the usual 
form, squarish, seven inches long by one inch broad. It had been 
" badly sharpened " with, and was rounded, and not flat as now on 
the sides. It was reckoned to be " burn-stone," is of a grey colour, 
not unlike some of the greywacke series. Stone celts of greywacke 
have been turned up near Hetton Hall, so it is not unlikely that this 
rock likewise may have supplied the "primitive inhabitant" with 
whetstones. A short stone cist, with bones in it, was disinterred at 
Carr's Fold, in the direction of Langlee, while rebuilding it some 
years since. 

* " Like money by the Druids borrow'd 
In the other world to be restor'd." 

Druidre pecuniam mutuo accipiebant in posteriore vita reddituri. 
Pat.ricius, torn. ii. p. 9. 


disposition was not ascertained. Some time after the vanished 
gold promised to reproduce itself in another form. The burn, 
during its winter impetuosity, rushing against the decomposed 
granite of its bed, detaches the tarnished specks of mica, which 
as they are twirled among its eddies, emit a flashing metallic 
lustre. This was enough to tempt an exploration among the 
sand and debris, but the illusion of having met with a gold 
mine among the Cheviot Hills soon passed away, for the scales 
that were picked up were merely " cat's-gold" — "as far from 
true gold as a painted fire is from a real." 

" Like tho Leganian mine, 
Whore sparkles of golden splendour 

All over the surface shine. 
But if in pursuit we go deeper, 

Allur'd by the gleam that shone, 

Ah ! false as the dream of the sleeper, 

Tho bright ore is gone." 


But expectations of subterranean wealth as concomitants 
of tho 

" Stones of power 
By Druids raised in magic hour," 

can bo justified by various precedents. In 1824, a gold sceptre 
or red of office, which may have been borne by some ancient 
arch-priest or king in the great assemblies of his people, was 
dug up in tho circle of Leys, Inverness-shire ; and in 1838, a 
gold ring and an armilla of beaten gold were found in the 
island of Islay, under a large standing stone. Sometimes it is 
the key lias gono a-missing. Thus " the Hazclrigg Dunnie " 
loses the key of Dowdon-doors, and is " ruined for overman"."' 
VOL. II. i' 


Of Cairn-a-vain, a gigantic pile of stones on one of the Ochill 
hills in Kinross-shire, it has been prophesied : 

" In the Dryburn well, beneath a stane, 
You'll find the key o' Cairn-a-vain, 
That will inak' a' Scotland rich ane by ane." * 

Equally fortunate shall it be with the west of Ireland ; where 
the visions that dazzle the fancy of the half-starved inhabitants 
compensate for and are created by contrast with the gloomy 
features of the surrounding scenes ; for there lies the Celtic 
elysium, and the accumulated treasures of centuries. " The 
inhabitants of Arran More, the largest of the south isles of 
Arran, on the coast of Gahvay, are persuaded that in a clear 
day they can see Hy Brasail, the enchanted (or Royal) Island, 
from the coast, the paradise of the pagan Irish." f On the 
north-west of the island they call this enchanted country Tir 
Hudi, or the city of Hud, % believing that the city stands 
there which once possessed all the riches of the world, and that 
its key lies buried under some Druidical monument. When Mr. 
Burton, in 1765, went in search of the Ogham monument, 
called Conane's Tomb, on Callan Mountain (also called Callaw 

* Wilson's Archwologij and Prehistoric Annals of Scotland, pp. 
114, 316, 141. Mr. J. F. Campbell, in some remarks on this paper, 
with which he favoured me, says, " Cairn-a-vain may signify cairn of 
the ore or mine, spelt in the genitive mhein, pronounced Vein or Vain 
with a nasal sound. This looks more like a fact. The vein of some 
mine may be visible at the bottom of an old shaft under a stone." 
(2Uth January, 180-2.) 

f See West Ilif/Jihiinl Tales, vol. iv. 

X Mr. Campbell notes that this is some corruption ; Tir na h 
night; the land of youth, is a common name for this "Western 


Mountain), the people could not be convinced that the search 
was made after an inscription, but insisted that he was seeking 
after an enchanted key that lay buried with the hero, and 
which, when found, would restore the enchanted city to its 
former splendour, and convert the moory heights of Callan 
Mountains into rich and fruitful plains. They expect great 
riches whenever this city is discovered." * 

* Vallancey's Collectanea de Rebus Hiberrdcis. Beauford's Ancient 
Topography of Ireland. 



The Plague or Silver Stone. 

" Plague or Silver Stones were placed in the vicinity of a 
town or by the wayside and were used thus. When the plague 
existed in a town, one of the parties in money transactions, 
deposited the silver or money in water, in a cavity on the top of 
the stone, and retired to a distance, while the receiver advanced 
and took it out, thus preventing contagion. 

" The remains of this stone at Hexham was standing in the 
recollection of an aged lady (my informant), who stated that 
being taken by her father to walk, when a child, on coming 
near the Silver Stone she was told to spit upon it, and she 
would find silver near. Her father contrived to drop a piece of 
silver, unknown to her, which she readily found, to her surprise 
and delight. She confessed to have returned some days after, 
unknown to her father, to the stone, but the spit did not pro- 
duce the same effect." — A Guide to the Abbey Church of Hex- 
ham, by Joseph Fairless, p. 17. Hexham, 1853. 

Finding of a Horse-shoe. 

Near Woolcr, when a horse-shoe is found, the holes clear of 
nails are to be counted, as these indicate how long it is before 
tho party who picked it up is going to bo married. Elsewhere 


tho number of nails remaining indicate luck. Some simple 
people, it is said, nailed a horse-shoe to the door of a house, 
that they might always have moonlight, taking the horse-shoe to 
be the fallen moon. 


A hive-bee lighting on the hand is fortunate and portends 
the reception of money. 

It is still customary to warn the bees of the death of their 
master, otherwise they will bring luck no longer. One had 
seen a piece of the funeral cake placed at the mouth of the hive, 
which the inmates dragged w r ithin with a mournful noise. 

Petting Stone. Roping. 

Eglingham Church was one of those in former times where 
there was a tl petting stone " for the bride to jump over. At 
other churches a stool was placed, with a man in attendance at 
each side, over which they " jumped " the bride and bridegroom 
by taking hold of their hands and partly lifting them. After the 
couple were married, and on their way home, they were way- 
laid, and a rope placed across the street or the road, which it 
was necessary to leap over, and in order that it might be suffi- 
ciently lowered to enable this ceremony to be performed, the 
holders of the rope claimed a money perquisite. In country 
places the roping would take place for three times at the least. 

my Mally, inconstant Mallek. 

A Northumbrian Song. 

" I bought to my Mally, the ribbons of red, 
The ribbons I bought her was a crown every yard ; 
All that I bought her, it still winna' do, 
For she to another proved constant and true. 

my Mally, inconstant Mallee ! 


" I bought to my Mally, the riDbons of silk, 
The ribbons I bought her was whiter than milk, 
All that I bought her, it still winna do, 
For she to another proved constant and true, 

my Mally, inconstant Mallee ! " 

This was sung to a simple and rather plaintive air, and was 
known in the country district near Hexham. The air I know, 
but it has possibly never been taken down. 

Old Toast in North Northumberland. 

Mr. W. told me that when a boy he had often heard about 
Wooler, among country folks, the following toast, but the 
memory of it had now died out : 

" Health, "Wealth, Milk, and Meal, 

May the Deil, 

Rock him weel, 

In a creel, 
Who doesn't wish us a' weel." 

Guisarding Rhymes. 

Fragment of a Guisarding Rhyme in South Northumberland. 

" silence, gentlemen, if you would silent be, 
Alexander is my name, and I'll sing right cheerfully; 
We are six actors young, who never acted before, 
And we will do our best, and the best can do no more. 
Oh the first that I call in, he is a squire's son, 
He's like to lose his true love, because he is too young ; 
The next that I call in, he is a tailor fine, 
What think you of his work, when he made this coat cf mine. ! 

A coat of many colours ncd adornments. 


Billy come thee way, with thy valiant spear, 

For thou canst act thy part, as well as any here. 

# * # * 

As we are marching round, think of us what you will, 
Fiddler strike up and play, the " Auld Wife of Covershill." 

At Wooler, in North Northumberland, children begin guisard- 
ing on Halloween night, and continue in going about in separate 
bands, which call at most of the houses of the town, reciting 
rhymes, of which I have obtained an example. One enters and 
recites : 

" Redd stocks (or sticks), redd stools, 
Hero comes in a pack of fools ; 
A pack of i'ools behind the door, 
That was never here before." 

Eggs versus Cheese. 

A man at one time laid a wager that he would cat ever so 
many eggs, " teens " at least, i.e. from thirteen to twenty; 
every morning in the year ; but this diet proved too much for 
him, and he died before the year was out. He was opened, and 
a hard substance of the shape of a knife was extracted from his 
stomach. His brother obtained possession of this, and having 
got a blado put into it, used it as a knife. Some time after, 
while labouring in the field, he had bread and cheese to dinner, 
and ho laid the handle of his knife on tho cheese and found that 
it was quite dissolved away. He then made a wager that he 
would eat twice as many eggs as his brother bargained to do, 
and on the same conditions. The offer was taken, and he went 
on with tho daily meal of eggs, always eating a piece of cheese 
after them, and no evil effects resulting, he won the wager. 
The moral taught was, " Cheese digests everything but itself." 


The Druid's Lapfu' and the Devil's Stone. 

The standing stone at Yevering in G-lendale is a large column 
of porphyry planted upright in a field at the northern base of the 
hill called Yevering Bell. It is usually spoken of as indicating 
a battle, but is in reality prehistoric, there being another, now 
prostrate, among the old forts and tumuli on the eastern end of 
the lower slope of tliat hill.* By the common people it is called 
the " Druid's Lapfu'." A female Druid's apron string broke 
there, and the stone dropped out and remained in its present 
position. Another account is that one of the Druids, who are 
represented like the Pechs or Picts to have had very long arms, 
pitched it from the top of the Bell, and it sunk into the soil 
where it fell. 

The " Apron full of stones " was a large heap of stones near 
Hedgley, removed in 1768 or 1769, supposed by the country 
people to be the work of the devil. They were found to cover 
the base and fragments of a cross, which is called in Armstrong's 
map " Fair Cross. "f 

The Bev. Gr. Eome Hall, P.S.A., in the Archceologia ^Eliana, 
N. S., vol. viii. p. 68 (1879), notices a monolith, twelve feet 
high, similar to the one still standing at Yevering, by the name 
of the Devil's Stone or Eock. It stands in the neighbourhood 
of two ancient British camps, not far from Birtley Holywell, in 
North Tynedale. " Tradition asserts this to have been tlie 
scene of a Satanic leap, the ' very hoof marks ' being yet visible 
on its altar-like summit in the shape of what geologists would 
call ' pot holes,' a leap intended to result in the demon's descent 

* Both stones were standing in Horsley's time (1729-30). 
Horsley's Northumberland, p. 12, and are noticed elsewhere, 
f Mackenzie's Hist, of Northumberland. 


at Lee Hall, on the opposite bank of the river, about half a mile 
distant; but the interval not being carefully estimated, the con- 
sequence was a fall into the deepest abyss of the North Tyne, 
just below the Countess Park Chuts, thence called the ' Leap- 
Orag Pool,' where the Satanic personage is said to have been 
drowned ! " * 

In a close near Barrasford, on the North Tyne, a cluster 
of standing stones stood within memory, which have been 
removed by agricultural operations. The last of them, of 
basalt, blasted a few years since by gunpowder, yet lies in an 
inclined position. Beneath the stone fragments of bones and 
charcoal were found in digging, which would indicate an ancient 
interment. " It is popularly believed that the series of stones 
which once stood here were located on the spot, through a duel 
between two ancient giants, who from their respective stations 
on the heights east and west of the river hurled these Titanic 
missiles at each other, which clashed and fell midway, a legend 
closely resembling that of Brittany, which terms such great 
stones the quoits or palets de Gargantuan f 

Cavern Stories and Pipers' Coves. 

The Hurlstono, a sandstone monolith, which stands in a 
cultivated field on Chillingham Newton Farm, and is supposed 
to have been an old boundary stone, has already been referred 
to, as well as the legend attached to it. The Lite Mr. Tate, of 
Alnwick, has written a version of it, but others that have 
appeared more recently in the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle 
nowspapcr are possibly more exact representations of the 

• It is also described by Mr. Hall, in Arch. ^Elian., N. S., vii. 
pp. 10, 11. 

t Rev. G. It. Hall, Arch. JElian., N. S., vii. p. 11. 


popular belief. A. Scorer writes, " There is a cavern on 
Bewick Moor called the ' Cater an' s Hole,' which has not been 
fully explored, although tradition mentions an adventurer pro- 
ceeding so far that he heard supernatural visitants dancing 
round the Hurlstone." John Slobbs, London, says, " I suppose 
this will be a version of a story I heard in the far north many 
years ago. It was of a cavern, somewhere, and nobody knew 
where it went to, or where it ended. An adventurous wight 
made up his mind to solve the difficulty and win renown in his 
own rustic circle. He therefore took seven years' meat and seven 
years' candles, or seven days' meat and seven days' candles — I 
cannot say which exactly, but either will do — and started on 
his journey. And as happens in all such cases, he travelled 
and travelled and travelled. And he travelled until he had 
only one-half of his meat and one half of his candles left. Then 
he began to consider that if he travelled much further, and did 
not reach the end of his journey, or an opening to get out of 
some way, he would neither have meat nor candles to serve him 
on his road back, and consequently must die there and never 
more be heard of. And it so happened that whilst he was 
studying what to do, and quite at a loss to know whether to 
return or proceed, he heard a voice saying — • 

' Jee woali agyen 
Turn back tlie stannin' styen.' 

And he took it as a warning, and returned to his home and 
kindred." This writer's impression was that the cavern he had 
heard of was on Grcenside Hill, near Glanton. J. Swinhoe, 
writing on the same subject, relates : "It was always believed 
that there was a subterraneous passage clear all the way from 
Cateran's Hole, on Bewiok Moor, to Hell's Hole (more fre- 
quently oalled Hen's Hole),' a wild ravine at the foot of Cheviot 
Hill, and that in the olden, troublous times of Border warfare 


it was frequently used both for purposes of offence and defence, 
for concealment of person and property, and as the means of 
transporting rieving bands of hostile borderers from the one 
locality to the other. An adventurer, our wight, made up his 
mind to test the truth of its existence, and took provisions and 
candles — whether for seven years or seven days, I cannot 
exactly tell either — but he travelled on and on until the con- 
sumption of half his stock suggested the necessity of returning ; 
and just when he was wondering where he might be, and 
what he should do, he plainly heard overhead the voice of a 
ploughman, saying to his horses : 

' Hup aboot and gee agyeen, 
Roond aboot the Whii-lstycn.'" 

He states that an acquaintance recently explored the cavern 
on Bewick Moor, and it ended in something less than forty 
yards ; in no simple obstruction, but solid rock. 

There was a different tradition about the termini of this sup- 
posed underground passage in Horsley's timo. He says that 
" at Hebburn," which is near Chillingham, and by the 
crags under which lie Hebburn Wood, behind which stretch 
wastes of peaty moor, connected with the moorlands that 
stretch to Bewick, " is a hole called Heytherrio Hole, which 
people imagine to be an entrance into a subterraneous passage, 
continued as far as Dunsdale on the west (north rather) side of 
Cheviot Hill, where there is another hole of the same kind 
called Dunsdale Hole." * 

It is told of " Eelin's Hole," which lies far up among the 
rocks on the east side of the Henhole llavine, that a piper 
having once entered it to explore it, his music continued to be 

* Materials for a History of Northumberland, p. 58. 


heard for half-way across the interval betwixt it and Oateran's 
Hole, on Bewick Moor. Like other pipers in a similar predica- 
ment, his tune terminated in — 

" I doubt, I doubt I'll ne'er win out." 

Such a legend we have attached to Windielaw Cove, near 
Eedheugh, on the coast of Berwickshire ; and also to some of 
the caverns near Montrose. Pudding Gyve, in the vicinity of 
Thurso, is a hollow cove, worn into the solid rock by the cease- 
less grinding of the sea. " There is an old tradition of a piper 
who ventured ' too far ben,' and ultimately lost himself. Many 
people, good people, heard him long, long after, playing his 
pipes in a low, hollow sound, some four miles up the country " 
(Robert Dick, in Smiles' Life of that worthy, p. 116). The 
" Piper's Coe o' Cowend," in the parish of Colvend, in Gallo- 
way, has also its musicians, but there is a different set of ideas 
connected with it. (See Mactaggart's Gallovidian Encyclopedia, 
p. 382.) There is a Piper's Hole on the banks of Peninnis, in 
St. Mary's, Scilly, which communicates, as tradition saith, with 
the island of Tresco, where another orifice known by the same 
name is seen. Strange stories are related of this passage, of 
men going so far in that they never returned — of dogs going 
quite through and coming out at Tresco with most of their hair 
off, and such like incredibles (Heath's Scilly Isles). Several 
who have attempted to penetrate the Fugoe Hole at the Land's 
End have escaped only by great luck — " by the skin of their 
teeth," as the saying is. (Hunt's Popular Romances of the 
West of England, p. 185.) 

Remedies for HYDRornoniA. 

To cure the bite of a mad dog in South Tynedale, it was 
usual to send to " Lockerly," on the borders of Scotland, for the 


water of some well into which something flying over it had 
dropt a stone which had communicated curative virtue to the 
spring. One day, at the place where my informant dwelt, a 
suspicious-looking dog, which was going " allyin " * about in a 
field, was induced to come to the stable and was tied up ; but 
the mad fit took it, and it broke loose and bit a weaver's dog 
and many cattle. A man was forthwith dispatched for Lockerly 
water ; and when it was brought every animal on the place had 
to taste a little, and the result was that no evil effects ensued 
from the bites. 

Another person had heard of great numbers of cattle, in the 
county of Durham, being affected with hydrophobia, and a mes- 
senger was sent to the borders of Cumberland for a stone, which 
being placed among water to be given them to drink would 
havo the effect of curing them ; but unfortunately the remedy 
in this particular case failed. The Gateshead Observer news- 
paper, of date March 23rd, 1844, under tho heading of " Mad 
Dogs," stated that during the preceding three months the 
neighbourhood of Kirkwhelpington and Birtley, in Northum- 
berland, had been much alarmed by visits of dogs in a rabid 
state, no less than seven having been killed. " We may add 
that the ' spirit of the age' has not yet banished the popular 
belief in tho virtues of LockerJee water ; a large supply having 
been procured by voluntary subscription. The worming of 
dogs has likewise been extensively performed." The "Lockerby 
water " (Dumfriesshire) appears to havo been intended, for 
which see Mr. Henderson's Folklore of the Northern Counties, 
p. 1G3; the confusion in the name arising from the similar 
qualities of the far-famed Lockhart of Lee Penny. 

• To movo or run from side to side. In North Northumberland 
tlic word is sail gin' , signifying sauntering, getting on slowly with 
Hui'k ; iiImi alli/in, wasting time. 


I am enabled, from former personal acquaintance with a rela- 
tive of the late Mr. Turnbull, to whom the Hume-byres Penny 
belonged, to give some additional particulars of its history to 
those contained in Mr. Henderson's work, ubi supra. It was 
called the Black Penny, possibly in contradistinction to a silver or 
white penny. It was left to Mr. T. by an aunt as an heirloom. 
The following was said to be its origin. A cow, or as others say 
all the cattle, was bitten at a place by a mad dog, and a con- 
sultation was held whether she should be slaughtered or undergo 
a course of medicine. Perplexity was removed by a crow in 
the hour of extremity fetching the penny in its mouth and 
dabbling it amongst water to show how it was to be rendered 
efficacious. Mr. T. lent it to a person near Morpeth, and having 
lost faith in its virtues, never took the trouble of recalling it. 
Mr. T.'s nephew, who as well as him has now been dead for 
many years, wrote me thus on the subject, 25th April, 1843 : 
" The magical penny which Mr. Turnbull had was not quite so 
large as a common penny, but thicker. It had a kind of raised 
rim or border, and seemed to be composed of copper and zinc. 
It had been in the family for a hundred years at least. The 
family lived at Hadden, near Sprouston, when they got it. It 
had been several times given out, and once a purse containing 
gold, but to what amount was not known, was left as a deposit 
for its safe return. In Northumberland and Yorkshire much 
credit was given to its powers. Mr. T. has a letter of thanks, 
but I have not yet prevailed on him to search for it. Upon one 
occasion a Yorkshireman came to Hume-byres on his master's 
account for the penny ; and fearing that Mr. T. might not part 
Math it, ho was provided with barrels to carry the healing water ; 
but, unfortunately for him, the penny was not at Hume-byrcs, 
but at Northbank, near Linlithgow ; however, he extended his 
ride and procured it. T think it was his master who returned a 
letter of thanks. The last person who got it away, fifteen" years 


ago, wrote to Mr. T. saying he had returned it by post ; but that 
is doubted. His address is as follows : Mr. Thomas Millburn, 
Parish of Bothal, Bothal, Ogle, North Seaton. The gentleman 
for whose cattle it was got was John Saddler, Esq., Tritling- 
ton." [In Mackenzie's Hist, of Northumberland, ii. pp. 149, 
150, it is said: " Tritlington, Hebron Chapelry, Morpeth, is 
situated about If miles north-east of Hebron, and one mile east 
from the great post road. Here is an old hall," &c. " Near to 
this old hall a neat mansion house was lately erected by Mr. 
John Sadler, who from a humble beginning has, by his agricul- 
tural knowledge and exemplary industry, risen to opulence, and 
acquired a valuable estate here."] " When I was inquiring 
about it, there was a cattle-dealer at Hume-byres who was about 
a fortnight since making the same inquiry at Morpeth and 
Wooler. He found the circumstances of the penny belonging 
to Mr. Turnbull having been in that neighbourhood fresh in the 
memory of some of the inhabitants." 

The belief in the "mad-stone" extends to America. In 
Hardwicke's Science Gossip for September, 1871, vol. vii. 
p. 213, there is a quotation from a New York paper to this 
offect: " Five children, three white and two black, were bitten 
by a mad dog in Pulaski, Tenn., one day last week. Mad- 
stones were applied promptly to the white children, it is said, 
with the desired effect, all of them being now well and safe, 
while the negro children, to whom the mad-stone was not 
applied, have gone mad. The account says there were several 
mad-stones in the neighbourhood." In the same work, for 
January, 1872, vol. viii. p. 20, Dr. Josiah Curtis, Knoxvillo, 
Tennessee, writes that there is a popular belief in America that 
certain stones possess the power of averting hydrophobia from 
persons bitten by rabid dogs, and it is quite widespread. 
" It mostly prevails among the unlearned and superstitious, but 
is not (.'unfilled In such. A very respectable lady in Riehinund, 


Va., has one of these so-called mad-stones, in which she has 
implicit faith, and I have known a reputable physician in 
Illinois who fully believed in their efficacy. There are no 
special localities where these stones are found, nor is there any- 
thing very peculiar in their appearance." 

Mr. George Henderson, in his Popular Rhymes of Berwick- 
shire, p. 23, mentions a very recent instance of a healing stone, 
that might have become famous had the popular belief in such 
cures not been superseded by the skilled veterinary. " There 
is," he says, "or was, a locality near Ayton called the Corbie- 
hough, because of the number of corbies (ravens or carrion- 
crows) that were wont to breed there in former times. Our 
great-grandfather lived in Ayton about 1730, and he got into 
his possession an article of glamourie which he took out of a 
corbie's nest, in the "Corbie-heugh, which is said to have 
wrought many miraculous cures both on man and beast. It 
is only a few years since this talisman, which was a small 
triangular piece of glass or transparent stone, was in our 
keeping, but it is now lost." In a letter of date October 1 1 , 
1861, Mr. Henderson writes": " The corbie's stone was about 
the size of a pigeon's egg, and of that thickness, but more 
elongated. It was of a whitish colour — not so white as our 
common chucky stones (quartz), and almost opaque. It was 
said to have cured the Laird of Kimmerghame's cattle of some 
pestilential disease, by being laid in the pond out of which they 
drank." The corbie may have mistaken the stone for an egg, 
and carried it off. From its thickness it could not have been 
an elf-arrow head, which was in Ireland, sometimes " boiled 
with some reep halfpence in drink for the suffering creature." * 

* Dr. W. R. Wilde, North. Brit. Agriculturist, October 23, 1861, 
p. 1038. 


Stewart Hall, in the parish of Kothesay, Isle of Bute, for- 
merly the seat of the Stewarts of Kilwhineloch, was once " the 
repository of certain blessed stones considered invaluable in 
curing man and beast, under ' the blink o' an ill e'e.' " In 
like manner " the milk of cows, which witches took away, 
returned freely as ever, when they got a certain drink in which 
those stones had been boiled." * More might be said about 
curing stones. 

* Wilson's Guide to Rothesay and the Isle of Bute, p. 67. 




On Covin, Coban, or Capon Trees. 

Dr. Jamieson, in his Scottish Dictionary, says, that in Kox- 
burghshire, the cooin-tree signifies " a large tree in front of an 
old Scottish mansion-house, where the laird always met his 
visitors." A corruption of it is supposed to be " coglan-tree." 
He derives it from the French convent, convention or agree- 
ment ; which, again, is from the Latin conventum, a covenant, 
or conventus, an assembly. Covent, Anglo-Norman, is a cove- 
nant or agreement in " Morte Arthure." The witches of 
Auldearn met in covines, and the prettiest of them was called 
the Maiden of the Covine. The covin-tree is thus a variety of 
the trysting-tree, whose name and functions as the place of 
summons in the old " Riding " era, as the spot where rural 
lovers met and plighted troth, or where the exchangers of 
services and commodities held and still hold their convention, 
are indelibly impressed upon northern language and literature. 
Sir Walter Scott, in a note to his Letters on Demonology and 
Witchcraft, p. 277, holds the same view as Dr. Jamieson. 
" The tree near the front of an antient castle was called the 
covine-tree, probably because the lord received his company 

" He is lord of the hunting-horn, 

And king of the Covine-tree ; 
He's well lov'd in the western waters, 

But best of his ain Minnie." 

"When on a visit to Alnwick in summer, 1861, I found it to 


be well understood that a tree, called there a coban or covan 
tree, once stood before every castle (within a bowshot of 
Alnwick Castle for instance), and it was there the lord met his 
guests. And there used to be, and still is, a rhyme having 
reference to it, sung by young girls, while playing at " keppy 
ball," against a tree. From the time they can keep up the 
ball, they also divine their future prospects as to matrimony or 
spinster life. 

" Keppy ball, keppy ball, Coban-tree, 
Come down the lang loanin' and tell to me, 
The form and the features, the speech and degree, 
Of the man that is my true lover to be. 

" Keppy ball, keppy ball, Coban-tree, 
Come down the lang loanin' and tell to me, 
How many years old (name) is to be — 

One a maiden, two a wife, 

Three a maiden, four a wife," &c. 

And so on, the odds for the single, the even numbers for the 
married state, as long as the ball can be kept rebounding 
against the tree round which they play. The Scottish covin 
and the Northumbrian coban trees are thus identical. 

But there is another class of trees, that has puzzled both 
antiquarians and county historians, that ought, I think, to be 
coupled with these. These are the capon-trees ; for v, b, and 
p, are letters mutually interchangeable in European languages. 
One of these capon-trees, a venerable oak, in a very decayed 
state, stands by the highway near to Brampton, Cumberland, 
and fulfilled, it is to be remarked, the office of a tree of meeting. 
" It obtained its name from the judges being formerly met here 
by javelin men, well armed and mounted, from Carlisle, who, in 
addition to the armour on their backs, were further loaded with 
a goodly number of cold capons ; and here, under the spreading 
branches of this once stately tree, did the learned judges and 
their body-guard partake of this food," (Denham's Curnber- 

Q 2 


land Rhymes and Proverbs, p. 11.) Tradition makes amusing 
mistakes in the etymology of local names. The only other, 
and by far the most famous capon-tree that I know of, stands 
on the property of the Marquis of Lothian, near Jedburgh. 
Mr. Oliver, of Longraw, in a letter of 3rd April, 1855, states : 
" It has its name, tradition says, from its having been the roost- 
ing-place of the capons belonging to the monks of Jedburgh 
Abbey. From the shape of the tree, I think the word capen 
is literally coped, topped. It has a short stem, and a wide- 
spreading umbrageous top or cope." But this is the character- 
istic of many other trees besides the capon-tree. Another 
Roxburghshire friend suggests the "kepping,"or trysting-tree ; 
but this is not likely, when there is a term in the language 
appropriate to trysting-trees with a special function such as 
this may have once possessed. Two other derivations have 
been proposed by Mr. Jeffrey. In vol. i. p. 48 of his History 
and Antiquities of Roxburghshire he thus mentions it : " The 
banks of the river Jed, as it winds round Prior's haugh, are 
dotted with fine old wood, and at the foot of the haugh, on the 
south margin, stands a large oak, called the capon-tree. It is 
thought that the tree derives its name from the Capuchin friars, 
who delighted to wander amid such lovely scenes, and linger 
beneath the shade of the wide-spreading oaks. The haugh on 
which the tree stands belonged to the monastery, and was 
named after the prior. The tree measures twenty-one feet 
above the roots ; about ten feet up it divides itself into two 
branches, which measure respectively eleven feet and a half, 
and fourteen feet. It is between seventy and eighty feet high, 
and covers fully an area of ninety-two feet." J. Grigor, in 
Morton's Cyclopwdia of Agriculture, vol. ii. p. 477, says : 
" The circumference of its trunk two feet from the ground is 
twenty-six feet. The height of the tree is fifty-six feet, and the 
space occupied by the spread of its boughs is nearly a hundred 
feet in diameter." Mr. Jeffrey, in his second volume, p. 260, 


corrects himself as to the origin of the name. " I am now 
satisfied that the tree derives its name from its remarkable 
resemblance to the hood worn by monks of Jedburgh, and 
which was called a capon." Calling pictorial representation to 
his aid, his artist figures the capon-tree, with two monks in 
hoods, wielding sheep-crooks, conferring under the tree, if the 
accompaniments are not allegorical, about the points of fat 
beeves, and the prices of wool and mutton — an occupation 
more correspondent to their historical character than any- 
romantic predilection, like the Lady Grace of Sir John Van- 
brugh, for a cool retreat from the noon-day's sultry heat under 
a great tree. In what language capon signifies a friar's cowl, 
Mr. J. does not inform his readers. Capuchon, capuce, or 
capuche (Latin caputium) are the customary terms ; but 
neither they nor their derivative, Capuchin, resemble capon. 
Relying then on analogy, we continue in the opinion, that the 
capon-tree was the covin-tree of the Prior of Jedburgh, who, 
like other heads of religious houses, had the rank and attributes 
of nobility. 

A poetical address to the capon-tree, which was contributed 
to Hogg's Instructor (2nd Series), ii. p. 8, by William Oliver, 
Esq., of Longraw, embodies the striking vicissitudes of which 
during the troublous ages of past history this aged tree may 
have stood a silent witness : — 

" To the Capon-tree. 

" Old Capon-tree, old Capon-tree, 

Thou standest telling of the past, 
Of Jedworth's forest wild and free 

Thou art alone, forsaken, last. 
Thou witness of dark ages gone, 

Ere time doth lay his scythe to thee, 
I fain would know what thou hast known, 

Thou sere and time-worn Capou-tree. 


"Jed ' wander'd at its own sweet will,' 

When thy green spring-time first began ; 
The wolf's lone howl the glades would fill, 

As through their moonlit depths he ran. 
The antler'd deer with ears alert, 

Would listen to his deadly foe, 
Then hound away, with panting heart, 

O'er ridge of oak, through brake of sloe. 

: Say, did'st thou flourish when those bands, 

The Eternal City's legion'd ones, 
Did strike their prows 'gainst Albyn's sands, 

To combat with her savage sons ? 
And did the breeze, as passing by, 

It whisper'd through the spreading boughs, 
Bear on the Eoman battle-cry, 

And answering shriek of painted foes ? 

: And did the startled deer upspring 

From thy wide top's far-spreading shade ? 
And did the wild bull's bellow ring 

Through forest, scaur, and tangled glade, 
As that unwonted battle-cry 

The breeze through Jedworth's forest bore ? 
Now forest, Roman, all gone by ; 

Eome's tongue — a memory — no more I 

The hoary Druid bless'd thy shade, 

And held thee sacred, mystic tree ; 
What were the gods to whom he pray'd ? 

What sort of faith had he in thee ? 
Hast thou e'er seen the sacred knife — 

The breast of human victim bared ? 
Or, when the blood ebb'd with his life, 

His agonized shrieking heard ? 


" Old 'Capon -tree, thou must have seen 

That, of all creatures on this earth, 
Man to his kind has falsest been 

And cruelest ; yet there is mirth, 
And joy, and love, and goodness much ; 

Oh ! would that in a world so fair, 
The beautiful man's heart might touch — 

That crime-bom sorrow were more rare ! 

" Rough savage hordes, with stealthy stride, 

Have wander'd 'mid thy brethren hoar ; 
And many a host, in warlike pride, 

Has pass'd thee in the days of yore. 
And holy monk and castellane, 

And knight and baron debonair, 
Have mingled in the glancing train, 

With courtly prince and lady fair. 

" Ah ! did'st thou see that hapless queen, 

The fair, the wrong'd, not blameless Mary ! 
She wander'd sure, 'mong paths so sheen, 

When at fair Jedworth she would tarry ; 
And did the fays among thy boughs 

Not pine to see their charms surpass'd ? 
Ah ! sunk beneath most cruel woes. 

Unenvied was her fate at last ! 

" 'Twas in yon glen * that Richmond's knight 

Was caught by Douglas in the toil ; 
In vain were numbers, valour, might — 

The well-plann'd ambush all could foil ; 
Entrapp'd and conquer'd all, or slain, 

It was the Southron's fate to yield, 
And Douglas from his king did gain 

Another blazon to his shield. 

This glen is about a quarter of a mile from the capon-tree. 


" Old Ferniherst,* whose battled keep 

Still towers embosom'd in the woods, 
Where, now, all warlike echoes sleep, 

Has rung to sounds of Border fends ; 
The English, Scotch, and Frenchman'sf shout, 

The clang of arms, the victim's wail, 
The din of onslaught, siege, and rout, 

Have sped along thy native vale. 

" With thee, old tree, I live again, 

To wander through Jed's forest wide, 
To see the mail-clad warrior train 

Upon some Border foray ride ; 
To hear the clang of hound and horn, 

See falcon's stoop, and heron's wile ; 
Hear matin-chime, at grey-eyed morn, 

From fair St. Mary'sJ hallow'd pile. 

" Sweet Jedworth 1 nestling in the vale, 

Surrounded by the forest lone, 
Thy beauties grac'd the minstrel's tale, 

And oft to princely guests were known : 
No princes now with thee remain, 

Thy ancient woods are wede away ; 
The winds sweep through thy ruin'd fane, 

And monks and abbots where are they ? 

" I love not the unsparing hate 

That would all ancient things reject ; 
Nothing that e'er has been held great, 

Or good, or true, deserves neglect ; 
And though we many errors find, 

These errors, once, were view'd as sooth,-^ 
Were labours of the human mind 

Struggling, as mind is yet, for truth. 

* Ferniherst Castle stands half a mile from the tree, 
t A.D. 1549. J Jedburgh Abbey. 


" The human ocean-stream rolls on, 

With hidden depths, and ceaseless tide ; 
A single wave, now ages gone, 

Will never, in effect, subside ; 
But still, though all unmark'd by man, 

Will modify the heaving whole : 
Some acted thought, through all life's span, 

Shall tincture ev'ry living soul. 

" And now, old Capon-tree, farewell ! 

There is an awe bred by the thought 
That'thou, with silent tongue, dost tell 

Of swarming millions grave-ward brought — 
Fallen as thou hast shed thy leaves ! 

That glory, honour, gladness, shame — 
That ev'ry passion which still heaves 

The breast, was and will be the same " 

" Our Capon-tree," says Mr. Hilson, in his Guide to the 
Scenery and Antiquities of Jedburgh, " is one of the noblest 
objects in Jed Water. It stands on a little meadow terminating 
at the third bridge. It is told of John Foster, the celebrated 
essayist, that he had a peculiar respect for old trees, and with a 
pleasantry scarcely his own, designated them ' fine old fellows.' 
There are few who have not shared in the feelings of reverence 
for the more ancient members of the forest race. While other 
objects around them recall the passing away of time, they, 
in a striking degree, suggest the train of pensive reflec- 
tion. The dismantled castle may present the memorial 
of olden times, telling the tale of mutation and change ; 
but a venerable tree has a moral which the dead and inert 
remains of lifeless strength do not suggest. In the budding, 
and blossoming, and decline, and in the removal of growth, 
there is something akin to that human life, with whose progress 
it may have kept company through long generations of history. 


There is something inspiring to the mind in the sight of the 
monarch of the wood — the oak of a thousand years, casting its 
arms aloft, and wooing the influence of light and air with the 
eagerness of the tender sapling. Its castle-like strength of 
trunk, its massy boughs and doddered angles, its freaks of 
growth, its bourgeoning world of leaf and branch, spreading far 
away from the central trunk — the strong but graceful balance of 
the whole — when seen, as in the Capon-tree, form as noble an 
object as Nature's out-of-door world presents." 

Alnwick Mercury, July 1, 1862. 

Whittingham Vale. 

" Now I gain the mountain's brow, 
What a landscape lies below." — Dyer. 

Many of our Northumbrian hills, vales, and villages present 
pleasing pictures of rural life, calculated to inspire our hearts 
with love for our native land. They are filled with the elements 
of poetry ; for not only are the external features beautiful, but 
they are also the scenes of historic events and old-world legends 
which people them, as it were, with the busy life of other 
generations. Englishmen travel into distant lands in search of 
the wonderful and picturesque, and often leave unvisited richer 
scenes near to their own homes. Let them wander through the 
vale of Whittingham, and then say where they will find more 
charming views and more interesting associations. 

Whittingham is but a small village on the banks of the Aln, 
which is here a tiny brook ; yet it stands in the midst of 
memorials of other times ; in the fortlets on the adjoining hills, 
and in the old weapons found near them, we see footprints of 
the ancient British people ; the Roman has left his wonderful 
roads, the Saxon his church, and the Norman his pele tower. 

From Simeon, who wrote his history of the church of Durham 


in the twelfth century, we learn that Hwittingham was in 
existence in a.d. 737 and belonged to Ceolwulph king of 
Northumberland. The name is Saxon, derived from Hwiting, 
a personal name, and the common termination ham, a town 
or village, being the town or village of Hwiting. During 
this troubled period, when England was divided into seve- 
ral distinct kingdoms constantly at war with each other, the 
seeming peacefulness and security of the cloister tempted 
many to devote themselves to a religious life, and take 
refuge in monasteries. According to the Venerable Bede, 
nobles as well as private persons left the study of martial dis- 
cipline and became monks. Ceolwulph, a listless and inactive 
king, was smitten with the prevailing mania, and after reigning 
eight years, he resigned his crown to his nephew, Eadbert, and 
entered as a monk the monastery of Lindisfarne ; he enriched 
it by his beneficence ; milk and water had previously been the 
beverage of the monks, but to gladden their hearts he introduced 
wine ; he brought with him kingly treasures and lands and 
bestowed upon it the villages of Bregesne (Brainshaugh, near 
Warkworth) and Wercewede (Warkworth), with all their 
appendages and with the churches which he had built there ; 
and besides these, four other villages, Wudcestre, Hwitingham 
(Whittingham), Eadulfiugham (Edlingham), and Eagwlfingham 
(Eglingham). Truly royal gifts to a church. No mention is 
here made of a church at Whittingham, but there can be little 
doubt that one was built there about this period, or not long 
afterwards, for the present church still retains distinctive work 
of Saxon times. Twenty-two years ago such early remains 
were more extensive ; but unfortunately much of the old Saxon 
work was destroyed in 1840, when the church was repaired and 

Undoubted Saxon remains are few in North Northumberland ; 
not even the foundations of dwelling houses, towers, or castles 


can be traced. Constructed for the most part of wood and clay, 
the houses were frail and perishable; but the contempt and 
hostility felt by the proud Normans towards the conquered 
Saxons led to the destruction of many monuments of Saxon art ; 
while the fell swoop of the ruthless conqueror, when he wasted 
and destroyed Northumberland by fire and sword, would reduce 
all to ruin. Our Saxon relics are all ecclesiastical. Part of 
the shaft of a Saxon cross supports the font in Rothbury Church; 
other fragments of Saxon crosses are at Warkworth and Lindis- 
farne ; and several sculptured stones, remains of the Norham 
Saxon church, are built up into a pillar in Norham churchyard. 
But the most interesting relic of the period was taken from 
Alnmouth Church, and is now preserved in Alnwick Castle 
Museum ; it is a sculptured cross, with an inscription partly in 
rude Roman letters and partly in Runic characters. Formerly 
many of the works of Norman builders were attributed to the 
Saxons — Alnwick Castle was Saxon, Lindisfarne Priory and 
other churches with circular arches were represented to be 
Saxon ; but all such are now known to belong to a later period. 
And here we may indicate the characters of the Saxon style as 
seen in churches. It was founded on the Roman type, but of a 
rude kind, like the imitations made of the works of a civilised 
people by a race little advanced in art. The masonry of the 
walls was a rough irregular rubble, or rag, formed indiscrimi- 
nately of large and small stones and united with a coarse 
cement ; this rubble was sometimes set, as in Sompting Church, 
in a framework of narrow vertical strips of stone, extending 
through the thickness of the wall, and projecting a little beyond 
it, representing as it were the wooden framework used in con- 
structing the frailer ordinary dwelling houses. At the corners 
of the towers there was a peculiar quoining, called long and 
short work, which consisted of a long stone set upright at the 
corner, and a short one laid on it and bonding one way or both 


into the wall. Arches, when large, were semicircular, and 
rested on a rude impost ; and mouldings were flat and simple ; 
the windows were small, usually with semicircular and some- 
times with triangular headings ; but those in the belfry 
were highly characteristic, for the small windows were 
double, being divided by a rude balustre set back a little 
from the front. All these peculiarities are not to be seen 
in any one building now remaining ; and it is only some of 
them that appeared in Whittingham Church. Rickman gives a 
brief account of this church, and a drawing of the tower, as they 
existed before modern alterations had marred their peculiar and 
interesting features. At that period, the west end of the aisles 
and one arch on the north appeared of the same early Saxon 
style of architecture ; the corners of the tower and the 
exterior angles of the aisle wall had "the long and short 
work ; " in the upper stage of the tower there was a double 
window, the division being made by a rude balustre, and in the 
lower stage there was another original window with an heading 
formed by two inclined stones ; and a very plain arch with a 
large rude impost and a plain square pier remained in the nave. 
But of these peculiar features there only remain the lower part 
of the tower, which still shows externally the characteristic 
Saxon long and short work, and internally portions of a rude 
double circular arch in the eastern wall. Notwithstanding the 
storms of eleven centuries have broken over this old tower, the 
rubble masonry and quoins built of the gritty sandstone of the 
district are but little decayed ; and now, when there is a greater 
respect felt for old memorials, may we not hope that, as time 
has dealt kindly with this tower, man may hereafter lay no 
ruthless hand on what is left. There is no such old relic in 
North Northumberland ; it is an architectural type adopted by 
our early forefathers — an unwritten historical record — and we 
ought not to be deprived of its teachings and associations. 


Leaving the church, we turn aside and meet with a memorial 
of another period in a strong Border pele, with a vaulted under 
story, and with walls eight feet in thickness. An original 
entrance, and a window on the east, evidence that it is an 
Edwardian structure of the fourteenth century. In a Survey 
made by Sir Robert Bowes and Sir Raufe Ellerker, in December, 
1542, two towers were then in a good state. " At Whyttingam," 
say they, " bene two towers whereof one ys the mansion of the 
vycaridge and the other of the Inheritance of Eb't Colling- 
wood Esquier both in measurable good repar'ons." 

These massive square fortresses, now picturesque objects in a 
peaceful country, recall the period when life and property were 
insecure from Scottish marauders who lived by plunder. In 
1460 there were thirty-seven castles and seven or eight of these 
pele towers in Northumberland. Without such protection men 
could not live in the district ; and indeed one extensive lordship, 
the Kidland, was entirely untenanted because there was no 
tower for its protection. This state of insecurity continued 
down even to a comparatively late period. Lord Wharton 
reported on 20th March, 1556, that " the Liddledayle horsemen 
in the nighte burnte a house a young woman and 16 noute in 
the same ; and hurt the owner and two other." " The 16th I 
began," continues he, " the Wardaine court at Alnewik Castle, 
whear was arraigned James Crosser, Ed. Cross, Robert Graye, 
Skotts, and Andrewe Noble, Englise rebbele, who confessed 
their offenses openly. Ed. Cross, Grey, and Noble suffered, 
and Noble's head was set upon a tower's gait at the towne of 
Alnewik." " A Book of the losses of the middle marches by 
the Scotts Theuves, presented at Alnwick on ] 6 April, 1586, 
gives the names of 37 townes and villages that have been most 
spoiled in this tyme of peace ; and all or the most parte of them 
ar within 6 miles of Sir John Forster's dwelling-house and 
within his office." Then follows a large number of complaints 


with a special account of the losses sustained. The following is 
an example — " goods taken out of the Lordship of Bewick by 
the Scotts — est Lilborne, 16 horse and mares, 42 kyne and 
oxen, 17 score sheep and 20 marks worth of insight (household 
goods). New Bewick 30 oxen and kyne, 13 score of sheepe, 
and insight worth 20 marks." A darker picture is drawn of 
the period by Sir William Bowes in a letter to Sir B. Cecill, 
January, 1596. " The distrested people are in despair and the 
country miserable from the horrible murders and incorrigible 
pride and disobedience of the ravenous malefactors. Touching 
murders, I cannot yet come by the certane number, but the 
number is great, the manner horrible ; killing men in their 
beds. I take it that Buckbage will be found guiltye of murthers 
above 20 ; Sir Robert Oarr 16. The Bournes and Younge, in 
revenge of their feede (feud) for one of their name chaunceably 
slayne in England by Sir Cuthbert Collingwood, his man 
rescuing from him a poore man's goodes, have murdered 35 
Collingwoods." The value of the spoyles committed by the 
Scots in 1587 was estimated at £92,969 6s. 7d. — a great sum in 
those days. 

A remarkable order was made in 1561 for fortifying the 
Borders — little closes or crofts were to be enclosed of lands next 
adjoining every town or village, none to be more than two acres 
or less than half an acre, so that the towns might be strengthened, 
free passage prevented, except by narrow ways, hedges and 
ditches, where a few men may resist and annoy many — the ways 
between enclosures were to be narrow and crooked, that an enemy 
or a thief may be met at corners and annoyed by the bow ; these 
ways were to be made by tenants, farmers, and owners, well 
ditched with a ditch 4 feet deep and 6 feet broad, with a double 
set of quicks and some ashes. The great remedy, however, in 
these dismal times was hanging, and many of the Can's, Youngs, 
Bournes, Armstrongs, and Elliotts endured this penalty for 


their lawlessness. The union of the two kingdoms under one 
monarchy brought this period of rapine and bloodshed to a 
close ; and when we look back upon these horrors we may feel 
thankful for the freedom and security now enjoyed in the Border 

The ownership of Whittingham in the middle ages was often 
changed. In John's reign it was held along with Thrunton, 
Kyle, and Barton, by Michael, the son of Michael ; in Edward 
I/s reign, Kobert of Glanton held three parts of it with the half of 
Glanton; and in the same reign the family of Flamvill had 
possession of it, one half being held in capite from the king by 
service of a sparrow-hawk yearly, and the other half on a tenure 
peculiar to the ancient kingdom of Northumberland, called 
dr engage, the lowest tenure giving a permanent claim to land, 
but placing the holder only as a half freeman between the free 
tenant and villain, for he was obliged to render servile duties in 
ploughing, harrowing, and sowing his lord's lands. The term is 
from the Anglo-Saxon dreogan, to work ; and it is still pre- 
served in the word drudge, applied to a person who performs 
the lowest kinds of labour. After passing through various 
changes, the property was in the seventeenth century held by 
the Border family of Collingwoods ; but George Collingwood, 
having joined the cause of the Stuarts in 1715, he was executed 
at Liverpool, and his estates were forfeited to the Crown, from 
whom they were purchased by Liddell of Eavensworth ; and 
they are now held by his descendant, the present Lord Ravens- 

Leaving the village, we pass through the great Thrunton 
Wood, which has an area of 1,500 acres, on to the Thrunton 
Crags, crossing in our route the branch Roman road, which 
joined the Devil's Causeway a little eastward of Whittingham, 
and which passing along the base of the Crags, and away by 
Holystone, extended to Watling Street) thus connecting the two 


great roads which, during the Roman occupation, traversed the 

The crags are sandstone, and in some parts rise as cliffs to the 
height of one and two hundred feet. There are great rents in 
these rocks and tumbled-down masses, which here and there 
form caverns. One of these is Weddei-burn's Cave, another 
bears the name of the Priest's Cave. In times of disturbance 
and insecurity, when the borders, especially, were subject to 
plundering and slaughter, such caverns may have been used as 
hiding places, and have taken their name from the persons 
who found refuge in them. Some persecuted minister of 
religion may have found temporary safety in the Priest's 
Cave, and possibly a freebooting Wedderburn may have 
escaped death by concealment in the dark recess which bears 
his name. 

The ascent through the wood to the top of the crags is very 
steep, but the toil is rewarded by the magnificent view enjoyed 
over the Whittingham vale. Resting on the summit for a while, 
we scan over the varied and beautiful features of the scene, and 
trace the boundary of the geological formations which have 
impressed their character on the district. The fine conical forms 
of the porphyritic hills, belonging to the Cheviot range, are seen 
rolling into each other at the head of the valley. A mass of this 
rock protrudes like a promontory as far eastward as the Rylcs, 
and northward in a deep bay we have old red sandstone con- 
glomerate ; some patches of the Tuedian or lower carboniferous 
group are in the lower grounds at Garmitage and Crawley Dene. 
From beneath the sandstone hill on which we rest, there comes 
out one of the lowest limestones of the mountain limestone 
group, and in one of the shales, interstratified with it, we found 
a species of Modiola. The thick beds of sandstone forming the 
great crags of Thrunton belong to the same formation, and arc 
a continuation of the ridge which, after bounding the valley of 



the Till and Breamish at Doddington, Eos Castle, and Bewick, 
sweeps round by Beanley and Alnwick Moor to Thrunton, and 
thence in a southerly direction over the bleak upland moors of 
Northumberland. The broad vale which lies beneath is highly 
cultivated, adorned with woods, and studded over with halls, 
villages, and hamlets, forming indeed one of the most beautiful 
and diversified scenes in Northumberland. 

On the Thrunton Crags, the falcons some time ago built 
their nests and brought forth their young : but they have 
been driven from their home by the incessant persecutions 
of gamekeepers, who ruthlessly shot them as "vermin." 
Any nobleman might be proud of having such tenants 
of his rocks, and surely the few rabbits or partridges 
which might be taken for food should not be grudged, in 
order that this noble bird may not altogether disappear from 
our district. 

Callaley Castle Hill is a detached rugged sandstone hill of the 
same range, somewhat conical in form and densely shrouded 
with wood. The summit, which is an irregular and broken 
plain of about two acres, is the site of an old camp, which like 
most of our early fortlets is rounded in form, but modified to 
suit the outline of the ground. The rampiers and ditches are in 
some parts very distinct, and the height from the bottom of the 
ditch to the top of the rampier is, on the west side, twenty feet. 
On the north side the escarpment of the hill is very steep, and 
there is but one rampier ; but there are two on the other sides, 
and there is a third at a distance of about one hundred yards 
down the hill on the west side, whence an attack could most 
easily be made. The ditch in some parts is cut deeply into the 
sandstone rock. Two entrances are traceable nearly opposite to 
each other, that on the W.S.W. side crosses the deep ditch by 
means of a causeway. This fortlet is remarkable, not only for 
its strong position and the skilful construction of its entrench- 


ments, but also for the peculiarity of its inner rampier, which 
in some parts is formed of stones roughly squared, built up, and 
even bedded with lime ; and in this it differs from most fortlets 
attributable to the ancient British people, for their rampiers are 
usually made of undressed stones and earth. Probably this, 
originally a Celtic camp, was afterwards occupied by another 
people, who reconstructed with more art the inner wall. The 
Komans may for a time have occupied it, for one of the Roman 
roads passes at a short distance. 

Callaley House stands at the base of the hill on low ground on 
the site of an ancient pele tower ; and it is the subject of a 
curious Northumbrian legend, which very probably had its 
origin in the apparent remains of extensive buildings on the 
Castle Hill. 

The legend is briefly told thus: — 

A lord of Callaley in the days of yore commenced erecting a 
castle on this hill ; his lady preferred a low sheltered situation in 
the vale. She remonstrated ; but her lord was wilful, and the 
building continued to progress. What she could not attain by 
persuasion she sought to achieve by stratagem, and availed 
herself of the superstitious opinions and feelings of the age. 
One of her servants who was devoted to her interests entered 
into her scheme; he was dressed up like a boar, and nightly 
he ascended the hill and pulled down all that had been built 
during the day. It was soon whispered that the spiritual powers 
wero opposed to the erection of a castle on the hill ; the lord 
himself became alarmed, and he sent some of his retainers to 
watch the building during the night, and discover the cause 
of the destruction. Under the influence of the superstitions 
of the times, these retainers magnified appearances, and when 
the boar issued from the wood and commenced overthrow- 
ing the work of the day, they beheld a monstrous animal of 
enormous power. Their terror was complete when the boar, 

i; 2 


standing among the overturned stones, cried out in a loud 
voice — 

" Callaly Castle built on the height, 
Up in the day and down in the night ; 
Builded down in the Shepherd's Shaw, 
It shall stand for aye and never fa'. 

They immediately fled and informed the lord of the supernatural 
visitation ; and regarding the rhymes as an expression of the 
will of heaven, he abandoned the work, and in accordance with 
the wish of his lady built his castle low down in the vale, where 
the modern mansion now stands. — George Tate, F. Gr. S., in 
Alnwick Mercury, August 1, 1862. 

Traditions of Meg of Meldon. 

Old Man. " And hast thou never, in the twilight, fancied 
Familiar object, some strange shape 
And form uncouth ? " 

Thalaba. "Aye! many a time." Southey. 

Seldom has the county historian stooped from his curt and 
often dry collocation of dates and facts long since forgotten to 
notice what his reader would more thankfully appreciate, the 
alleged spiritual occupants that rendered many a spot much 
more memorable than he, with all his piled-up researches, can 
ever hope for. More learned and more elaborate than most of 
those, who have engaged in such laborious works, the last and 
best historian of Northumberland, the Rev. John Hodgson, of 
Hartburn, never overlooked those romances of uncultivated 


minds ; but was careful to enshrine them amidst the data of 
charter chests and public records, where they reward the reader, 
like a dash of verdure amidst rocks hoary with the hues of time. 
Had he not told us, we should never very well have known why 
" Meg of Meldon " was stigmatised as a witch while she was 
alive, and continued to be a ghost so long as there lingered any 
belief in spiritual beings commissioned to walk the earth after 
the sun had gone to rest. 

" Meg of Meldon," he says, " would seem to have been 
Margaret Selby, mother of Sir William Fenwick, of Meldon, 
who distinguished himself as a royalist in the civil wars, and 
died in May, 1652. She was a daughter of William Selby, 
Esq., of Newcastle, and brought to her husband, Sir William 
Fenwick, of Wallington, a considerable fortune, which, being 
mortgaged upon Meldon (then belonging to the Herons), was 
the cause of that manor passing into the possession of the 
Fenwick family. On the decease of her husband she resided at 
Hartington Hall, and is represented to have been a miserly, 
pitiless, money-getting matron. In a picture of her, which was 
at Seaton Delaval in 1810 (she having been related to the Delaval 
family, who also had a portrait of her at Ford Castle), she was 
habited in a round hat, with a large brim tied down at each ear, 
and in a stiff gown turned up nearly to the elbows, with a 
vandyked sleeve of linen; the whole shoulders were covered 
with a thickly-gathered ruff or frill." " She is represented," 
says Mackenzie, " in the costume of a witch, with a high-pointed 
liat ; her nose is crooked, her eyes penetrating, and her wholo 
countenance indicates that superior acuteness, intelligence, and 
strength of mind, which being so uncommon among an ignorant 
and barbarous people, acquired her the character by which she 
is distinguished." * " The investment of her fortune in the 

* Mackenzie's Hist, of Northumberland, ii. p. 394. 


mortgage of Meldon, and the hard case of the young Heron 
being forced to join in conveying the ancient seat and lands of 
his ancestors to her son, were circumstances likely enough to 
cause a strong popular feeling in favour of the ousted heir, and 
as strong a hatred to his wealthy oppressors/' 

But besides this drawback to her popularity, Mr. Robert 
White says, " An opinion is generally entertained by the 
sagacious people in the neighbourhood that Meg was possessed 
of a large amount of money besides that which she invested on 
the manor of Meldon ; and being ever desirous of turning it to 
account, she frequently laid out heavy sums on such commodities 
as could be disposed of again to advantage. Amongst these she 
is said to have dealt largely in corn ; and being enabled, when 
prices were low, to make extensive purchases, she would, when a 
rise in the market took place, realise thereby a proportional 

" In addition to her hoarding propensities," continues Mr. 
Hodgson, " tradition reports that she was a witch, and, being a 
person of considerable celebrity in her day, she has since her 
death continued the subject of many a winter evening's ghost 
tale. She used to go between Meldon and Hartington Hall by 
a subterraneous coach road, and the entry at Hartington into 
this underground way was by a very large whinstone in the 
Hart, called the battling stone, upon which people used to beat 
or battle the lie out of their webs in the bleaching season. As 
a retribution for her covetous disposition and practice in un- 
earthly arts, her spirit was condemned to wander seven years 
and rest seven years alternately. During the season she had to 
walk she was the terror of the country from Morpeth to Harting- 
ton Hall. She frequented those places where she had bestowed 
her hoarded treasure; but always abandoned them when the 
pelf was discovered and turned to useful purposes. Many nights 
of watching and penance are said to have been spent over a well 


a little to the south-east of Meldon Tower, where she had 
deposited a hull's hide full of gold. The most frequent scene of 
her midnight vagaries was about Meldon Bridge, along the 
battlements of which she was often seen running in the form of 
a little dog. Another of her haunts was in an ancient stone 
coffin on the site of Newminster Abbey, where those who had 
the gift of seeing ghosts have seen her sitting in a doleful 
posture for many nights together. This coffin was called by the 
country people the trough of the maid of Meldon, and water found 
in it was a specific in removing warts, and curing many 
inveterate complaints." Mackenzie says "it is used as a trough 
for cattle." " One of her most favourite forms was that of a 
beautiful woman. But she was Proteus-like, and appeared in 
a thousand forms, lights, and colours, flickering over the Wans- 
beck, or under a fine row of beech trees, in the lane between 
the bridge and Meldon Park. The people of Meldon, however, 
became so familiarised with her appearance as to say when she 
passed them, ' there goes Meg of Meldon.' Such were the fables 
with which the calumny of an ignorant and superstitious age 
aspersed the character and memory of a person who was pro- 
bably much more enlightened and virtuous than her credulous 

" Within the last century some large fortunes are attributed 
to the discovery of bags of her gold. That which was deposited 
in the well near Meldon Tower has never been found ; but the 
ceiling of Meldon school-house once gave way with the woight 
of a bag of her money. This occurred while the master was 
out at dinner, and the varlets who were fortunate enough to be 
in, and devouring the contents of their satchels at the time, had 
a rare scramble for the coins." * 

It is related by Mr. Kobert White, on the testimony of a 

" Hodgson's JJial. of Northumberland, part 2, vol. ii. pp. 11, 12. 


correspondent, that an attempt was once made by an honest 
countryman to recover the mass of treasure which had been 
deposited in the well near Meldon Tower. " He was requested to 
repair to the place alone, on a particular night, exactly at twelve 
o'clock, and he would meet another person like himself who 
would assist him in raising the gold. He was further reminded 
that to be successful profound silence was necessary to be ob- 
served. Being a man not destitute of courage, he attended at 
the time and found the assistant, apparently a decent-looking 
personage, awaiting his arrival. Having brought with him a 
piece of chain and a set of grappling hooks, he attached them to 
a jack roll, which at that period would appear to have been 
fixed over the well for the purpose of drawing water. His 
comrade seemed to be perfectly acquainted with the nature of 
their business, for he rendered him all the assistance in his 
power, and when a loop was formed towards the middle of the 
chain the countryman thrust one leg therein, while the other 
allowed him to descend with all possible care. To his surprise 
he found the well nearly empty of water, and fastening his 
grapplers round the money succeeded once more in ascending to 
the top. Grasping the other handle of the jack he and his 
fellow exerted themselves so well that the treasure was speedily 
raised, and the former, seizing it firmly, gave it a swing towards 
him that he might land it safely on the bank. Unfortunately, 
however, when he was performing this last important part of liis 
task, excitement had wound him to the highest pitch ; the store 
of wealth was about to be placed at his feet, and the words, 
' we have her now,' escaped from his lips. This operated like a 
dissolving spell on what was done, the hooks quitted their hold, 
the object of his anxiety eluded his grasp and descended again 
into the well, out of which it is never more to be raised by 
mortal power. Even tho personage who had assisted the 
countryman seemed changed from the masculine to the femi- 


nine gender, and appeared to be no other than Meg herself, 
who, strange to relate, had endeavoured to bestow on the poor 
man what, had his own folly not marred the design, would have 
made him ' a gentleman for life.' " * 

I have also met with several kindred relations from an aged 
native of that part of the country. Some children, while play- 
ing in the ruinous " castle " or tower of Meldon, where tradition 
says she once resided, happening to turn over some of the stones, 
lighted upon a considerable sum of money, of which some got 
so much as their hats full ; but there had been something not 
" cannie " about it, for although they made good enough use of 
it, " it went all away, and they never knew themselves any 
better for it ; " a very prevalent opinion about evil-got money 
thus brought to light. 

A stonemason once dreamt that a triangular box filled with 
gold was concealed underneath a large stone that lay in one of 
the fields near Meldon, but before making a trial to obtain it he 
had spoken of the circumstance to some one or other, and sure 
enough, some days afterwards when he went, the stone was over- 
turned and a " three-neukit" hole appeared in the midst of 
where it had lain. Who had secured the treasure was never 

In troublesome times, my informant went on in substance to 
say, it was customary to conceal valuables from the clutches of 
lawless freebooters, in the hope of recovering them when the 
rights of property became again respected. Of this kind, and 
not Meg's accursed pelf, is the treasure that, wrapped up in 
a bullock's hide, was sunk to the bottom of the deep, clear well 
of Meldon. It was never discovered except on one occasion. 
Not only had it been revealed to sight, but it had been got hold 

• Richardson's Local Historian's Table Book, Legend. Div., i. pp. 
l;i,S, 189. 


of, and two oxen and two horses had been yoked to it and had 
hauled it to the brim, when one of those engaged spoiled all by- 
challenging all the fiends of the nether world to do their best, 
" for we have her now." Scarcely had he made the impious 
boast when the bag burst asunder, and its ponderous contents 
went plunging down into the depths and were never seen more. 
But often still the youngster gazes wistfully down through the 
crystal waters, unfathomably deepened by the reflection of the 
blue ether overhead, for he is sure that the treasure is yet 
there, and may he not cherish the hope that he, as well as any 
other, may be the lucky one whom it is to raise to plenty and 
honour ! 

" The infernal machinations of Meg," says Mackenzie, " long 
continued the terror of the neighbouring villagers. Few of the 
last age were so foolhardy as to venture through Meldon woods, 
where it is reported she made her dreadful exit when the 
sun was below the horizon." Fated only to review at night 
the domains that it had once been her pride to own, she tarried 
as long as permitted in the beloved territory, for when the 
ploughmen went out in the grey dawn to catch their horses she 
would have been still discernible among the dissolving vapours, 
"riding in her coach and four upon the Meldon hills." 

She was a true ghost, for, as Mr. Hodgson remarks, it was 
her particular pleasure to haunt Meldon Bridge, My informant, 
when a boy, never passed it late in the evening without bracing 
himself with a sort of defiant exorcism, saying to himself, 
" What do I fear on Doll [a riding mare] and wee Fanny [his 
canine attendant] beside me." Meg had not been listening, for 
he was never put in jeopardy of his life. 

A woman and her daughter were once bringing letters from 
Morpeth to a Captain Middleton, who then dwelt in that quarter, 
and night came upon them as they reached a field which they 
had to cross in going for the bridge. There was a slidit 


" grimeing " of snow on the path at the time, and from a track 
of footprints they remarked that a woman had preceded them. 
When they arrived at the bridge, the mother thought she saw a 
white woman, some way off', leaning against one of the battle- 
ments, and " had it in her mind " to say to her daughter, who, 
not so observant, had perceived nothing, " there's the woman 
whose footmarks we saw ; " but a feeling as if that was some- 
thing " not right " made her hold her peace till she had passed 
the place where the object of alarm appeared to stand, but when 
she looked back the figure had vanished, and as for the foot- 
steps, like Lucy Gray's, " further there were none." This is 
easily explicable. 

" Things viewed at distance through the mist of fear, 
By their distortion terrify and shock 
The abused sight." 

But what shall we say of another of Meg's pranks ? An indi- 
vidual, well known for his scepticism in regard to ghosts, had 
frequently heard of Meg's achievements in frightening people, 
but would not credit them. He, however, had no scruple in 
perpetuating the belief among the credulous, so one mirk night, 
dressed in white, he placed himself on the parapet wall of 
Meldon Bridge, and there sat awaiting passers-by. He had not 
stayed long till he found Meg herself seated alongside of him. 
" You've come to fley," * said she, " and Fve come to fley, let's 
baith fley thegither." At the same time she drew herself a little 
nearer him, while he, jealous of a too familiar intimacy, moved 
still further along. Meg repeated her movement, and he still 
shrunk from her approach. She at length came so close as to 
give him a push, which he hastily attempted to shun, but lost 



balance, and fell headlong into the water. Let us hope that 
Meg was rewarded with a respite for ducking the rival ghost. 

Another adventure in which Meg was concerned was sent me 
in 1877 by a clergyman in that neighbourhood, in the hand- 
writing of the narrator, a tradesman, I believe, in Whalton. I 
shall reproduce it pretty nearly in the language in which it was 
told. Two dwellers in the hamlet of Thornton who believed in 
Meg's appearance as a ghost, and a friend of theirs, a Scotchman, 
who could not be brought to credit it, sat one night after having 
been at the smithy, in a public-house at Meldon, disputing as to 
her existence or non-existence as a spiritual visitant. They then 
left in company for Thornton. At a certain part of the road 
one of the two believers, named Todd, gave some chains he was 
carrying from the smith's shop to his mate and fell behind. 
As soon as the other two were out of sight and hearing he took 
a short cut across a corner of a field and placed himself behind 
a hedge at the foot of a bank, a favourite haunt of Meg, and 
getting himself into the most ghostly style he could assume, he 
awaited their arrival. The Scotchman came up first, shouting, 
"Where are ye, Meg? Let's see you, Meg!" when Todd 
stepped out into view, saying, " Here's Meg, what want ye wi' 
Meg?" The other lad dropped the chains and made off, and 
the Scotchman after him. Todd, thinking he had overdone the 
thing, picked up the chains and ran after them to stop them, 
but the faster he ran the faster ran they, the tinkling of the 
chains behind keeping up their terror. The two lads had got 
upon Meldon Bridge over the Wansbeck, which was then a 
very narrow and steep structure. At the one end of it they 
disturbed a kyloe that had got out of a field. This started out 
as Todd was passing, and "gave a rout," and ran headlong 
across the bridge behind him. Todd, taking the beast for Meg. 
increased his speed, the most frightened of the three. Thus 
thore were throe men and a kyloe all terrified and running at 


their utmost pith. The three men arrived home in a serious 
state of fear, from which they were long recovering. The 
narrator adds a remark of identification. " Todd was said to 
be the father or grandfather to Jack Todd, the wood wagoner. 
Both the public-houses in Meldon were closed before my day." 

Stripping off the accessories of these stories, the machinery 
engages our attention ; and from it we obtain intimations of the 
native soil of the fragments of ancient beliefs, thus specially 
localised. The seven years' wandering and alternate rest is akin 
to the cave that opens its portals once septennially, that its 
enchanted inmates may be enfranchised ; or to Thomas of 
Ercildoune's and other waifs that have fallen to the good folks 
seven years' compulsory residence in Fairyland. The Pixies in 
Devonshire, for which we have Mrs. Bray's authority, punish 
those that offend them for the same sacred interval. 

The spirit's appearance as a dog is also in accordance with stand- 
ard sanction. When the evil one himself assumes the " shape 
o' beast," a black dog is a favourite form. Thus he appeared 
to Janet Watson, tried for a witch, 1661; and to cite a Border 
instance to Kobert Grieve, alias Hob Grieve, the Lauder wizard 
(tried anno 1649), in a haugh on Galawater, near Stow, " like 
a great mastiff, bigger than any butcher's dog, and very black, 
running upon him." {Satan's Invisible World Discovered, 
p. 35.) The notion may come from the east, where the dog as 
an unclean animal is held in detestation. " The Turks report, 
as a certain truth," says Morgan's History of Algiers, " that the 
corpse of the Heyradin Barbarossa was found four or five times 
out of the ground, lying by his sepulchre, after he had been 
there inhumed ; nor could they possibly make him lie quiet in 
his grave, till a Greek wizard counselled them to bury a black 
clog together with the body ; which done, he lay still, and gave 
them no further trouble." 

Wells, marshes, and pools of water actually appear to have 


been resorted to as places for concealment of articles of im- 
portance in periods of alarm. In the day of calamity the 
ancient Briton consigned his bronze cooking utensils to the 
nearest " well-eye," or peat pit, rather than permit the invader 
to gain possession of them. 

In Ireland, treasure crocks guarded by huge serpents lie at 
the bottom of the deepest lakes.* In Wimbell Pond, in Sussex, 
an iron chest of money is concealed,! and there is a Yorkshire 
legend to that effect. Some have been enriched by money 
found in wells. In Sharp's History of Hartlepool we read of 
one Nicholas Woodifield, farmer at Mainsforth, in Durham, 
who filled his brogues so well with gold pieces discovered at the 
bottom of a well, that he purchased the manor of Trimdon, in 
that county. 

A box of sunken treasure, in Bromley Lake, Northumber- 
land, was laid under a spell to be won, " by two twin yauds, 
two twin oxen, two twin lads, and a chain forged by a smith of 
hind ;" % a myth corresponding to the helpers at the well of 
Meldon. We find a similar agency and catastrophe repeated in 
a Yorkshire tale. A person having intimation of a large chest 
of gold being buried in an artificial mount, called Willy Howe, 
near Bridlington, " dug away the earth until it appeared in 
sight ; he then had a train of horses, extending upwards of a 
quarter of a mile, attached to it by strong iron traces ; by these 
means he was just on the point of accomplishing his purpose, 
when he exclaimed — 

' Hop Perry, prow Mark, 
Whether God's will or not, we'll have this ark.' 

* Irish Penny Journal, p. 234. 
t Choice Notes and Queries, Folklore, p. 113. 
| R. White, in Richardson's Local Hist. Table Booh, Leg. Uif., 
iii. p. 106. 


He, however, had no sooner pronounced this awful blasphemy, 
than all the traces broke, and the chest sunk still deeper in the 
hill, where it yet remains, all his future efforts to obtain it being 
in vain." * We have the legend with a slight change repeated 
in Cornwall. Nathan's Keeve is a large round basin, which a 
fall of water a hundred feet in height has formed out of the 
solid rock. According to tradition, " there was in it a silver 
bell, for which some men were fishing, when one who had 
brought it above water cried, * Thank God, here it is ; ' but the 
other replying, ' No thanks to him, we have got it without him,' 
it immediately tumbled in again and there remained." J 

For aught we know an animal's skin would bo the most 
durable coffer that could be suggested to a rude people. That 
prankish spirit " Silky's " treasure was " sewed up in a great 
dog or calf-skin." In the ruins of a round tower in Southwick 
parish, near Borland, Kirkcudbrightshire, as the tradition goes, 
there lies somewhere in the foundation a bull hide full of gold, 
as much as would enrich all Scotland. " Katie Neevie's hoard," 
in tho parish of Lesmahagow was secreted under a vast stone in 
the shape of " a kettle-full, a boot-full, and a bull-hide full" of 
gold.* In the scarcity of manufactured products at an early 
period of our history the hides of animals performed many im- 
portant services of which at present we have little idea. The 
ancient Scot cooked his meat in a cauldron improvised of the 
skin of the animal that furnished the meal. I have been told of 
a hideful of tallow in good preservation dug out of a Highland 
peat moss. Thero are instances in which a hide was employed 
as a winding-sheet. The body of Hugh Lupus, the great Earl 
of Chester, who came over with the Conqueror, and who died 

* Hone's Table Book, i. col. 82. 

j - Life and Labours of Dr. Adam Clarice, p. 117. 

X Chnmbcrs' Popular Rhymes of Scotland. 


before 1120, when discovered in 1723 was first wrapped in 
" leather," and then enclosed in a stone coffin.* John Forcer, 
prior of Durham, who died in 1374, was stitched up in an ox- 
hide at the price of nine shillings, including the tailor's wages ; 
and the hide was found " tolerably fresh," but the body much 
decayed, in 1729, when the pavement of that part of Durham 
Cathedral where he had been laid was under repair. f Tradition 
in this respect appears to have retained the impress of primitive 
practices, of which there are no longer any recollections. 

The Drake Stone, Harbottle. 

Near the frowning and rugged crags of Harbottle, in 
Northumberland, which impart a high degree of sublimity to 
the adjoining scenery, is the famous " Drake Stone," near 
the Loughs, which rivals the Bowder Stone in Westmoreland. 
It is customary with the young men in the neighbourhood to 
climb up this huge rock, from the top of which there is a fine 
prospect of the vale below, but it requires considerable dexterity 
and address to descend. 

The rustics here relate a story respecting the " Drake Stone" 
with great glee. On one fine summer evening, a few years ago, 
a stranger arrived at the village. He entered a public-house, 
and having taken some refreshment, immediately departed. His 
intention was to ascend the Drake Stone, which he did with 
little difficulty, and after remaining for some time on the summit 
of the rock, enjoying the beautiful and extensive prospect, the 
deepening gloom warned him that it was time to depart, and he 
therefore set about descending the dangerous rock, but in vain. 
He looked at the yawning depth below and shuddered at the 

* Defoe's Tour through Great Britain, ii. p. 366. 
J Raine's Durham Cathedral. 


prospect of attempting to descend ; further, the night was closing 
in, not a human being was in sight, and the poor traveller in an 
agony of fear was obliged to content himself with remaining' on 
the cold rock with the starry heaven for a canopy. Wrapping 
himself up in his garments as well as he could, he laid him 
down to obtain, if possible, some repose. To sleep, however, 
was not in his power, the knowledge of his situation made him 
to lie awake anxiously awaiting the break of day. Early on 
the following morning the inhabitants on rising were surprised 
to hear a human voice, " loud as the huntsman's shout," bawling 
lustily for assistance. Seeing his danger, they immediately pro- 
ceeded to the stone, and by proper means and some exertion he 
was safely extricated from his very perilous situation where he 
had passed so sleepless a night. 

Harbottle is not only distinguished by one of the most perfect 
Saxon camps in the county, but it is also remarkable as being 
the birthplace of General Handyside, whoso regiment is noticed • 
by uncle Toby in Tristram Shandy. — Alnwick Mercury, Aug. ] , 

Legends of Brinkburn. 

The history of Brinkburn Priory, by Mr. F. R. Wilson, the 
architect, so far as it can be traced from an elaborate study of 
the remains of the buildings, and in incidental notices from old 
writers, forms one of those local monographs that of late years 
have added so much to the value of the Transactions of the Ber- 
wickshire Naturalists' Club. 

With the " Book " or Chartulary of Brinkburn still inacces- 
sible to public research, Mr. Wilson does well to assume 
" that there are many chapters in the history of Brinkburn yet 

The contributions that we now present are written neither on 
sculptured stone nor in old dim writs hard to be deciphered, 
VOL. II. s 


but have been preserved by faithful tradition even until now, 
and what we have to do is to render them accurately as they 
have been delivered to us, so that the popular interest in the 
ruined monastery on the Coquet may also have its abiding 

The Hunter and his Hounds. 

Under a grassy swell, which a stranger may know by its 
being surrounded with a wooden railing, on the outside of the 
priory, tradition affirms there is a subterraneous passage, of 
which the entrance remains as yet a secret, leading to an apart- 
ment to which access is in like manner denied ; and as these 
visionary dwellings are invariably provided with occupants, it is 
asserted that a hunter who had in some way offended one of the 
priors was, along with his hounds, by the aid of enchantment, 
condemned to perpetual slumber in that mysterious abode. 
Only once was an unenthralled mortal favoured with a sight of 
the place, and of those who are there entombed alive. A shep- 
herd, with his dog attending him, was one day listlessly saunter- 
ing on this verdant mound, when he felt the ground stirring 
beneath him, and springing aside he discovered a flat door — 
where door had never before been seen by man— yea, that door 
opening upwards of its own accord on the very spot where he 
had been standing. Actuated by curiosity, he descended a 
number of steps which appeared beneath him, and on reaching 
the bottom found himself in a gloomy passage of great extent. 
Groping along this warily, he at last encountered a door which 
opening readily he, along with the dog, was suddenly admitted 
into an apartment illumined so brilliantly that the full light of 
day seemed to shine there. This abrupt transition from dark- 
ness to light for some minutes deprived him of the power of 
observing objects correctly, but gradually recovering he beheld 
enough to strike him with astonishment, for on one side, at a 


table with his head resting on his hand, slept one in the garb of 
a hunter, while at some distance another figure reclined on the 
floor with his head lying back, and around him lay many a noble 
hound ready as ever, to all appearance, to renew that fatal chase 
which consigned them all to the chamber of enchantment. On 
the table lay a horn and a sword, which, seeing all was quiet, 
the shepherd stepped forward to examine, and taking up the 
horn first applied it to his lips to sound it. But the hunter, on 
whom he kept a watch, showed symptoms of awakening when- 
ever he made the attempt, which alarming him he replaced it, 
and the figure started no longer. Reassured, he lifts the sword, 
half draws it, and now both men became restless and made some 
angry movements, and the hounds began to hustle about, while 
his own dog, as if agitated by the same uneasiness, slunk towards 
the door. Alive to the increased commotion and hearing a 
noise behind him, very like the creaking of hinges, he suddenly 
turned round and found to his dismay that the door was moving 
to. Without waiting a moment he rushed through the half- 
closed entrance, followed by his dog. He had not fled ten paces 
when, shaking the vault with a crash, the door shut behind him 
and a terrible voice assailed his ears, pouring maledictions on 
him for his temerity. Tho fugitive traversed the passage at full 
speed, and gladly hailed the light streaming in at the aperture 
above. The shepherd quickly ascended the steps, but before he 
got out the cover had nearly closed. He succeeded, and that 
was all, in escaping perhaps a worse fate than those victims of 
monkish thraldom whom he had just left ; but his poor dog was 
not so fortunate, for it had just raised its fore parts to come up 
when the door fastened on it and nipped it through. 

This story being a family inheritance of the European race of 
people has obtained a wide circulation, and there are many 
modes of telling it, answerable to the far-separated localities to 
which it it has been adapted. We recognise it in the banished 


Saturn reposing in a cave on a remote desolate coast ; * in the 
Seven Sleepers of Ephesus;t in the seven foreign brethren, 
in Eoman habits, lying in a profound slumber, in a cave on 
the shores of the ocean, in the extreme northern confines of 
Germany ; % in the three founders of the Helvetic confederacy, 
whom herdsmen call the three Tells, who sleep in their antique 
garb, till Switzerland's hour of need, in a cavern near the 
lake of Lucerne ; § in Ogier the Dane or Holger Danske, 
enchanted in the vaults of the Castle of Cronenburgh ; || in 
Frederick Barbarossa miraculously preserved to unite the 
Eastern and Western Empires, in the Kylfhausen Berg in 
Thuringia, or, according to another legend, in the Untersberg, 
near Salsburg ; IT but in the latter place the tradition vacillates 
betwixt him and the great Emperor Charles V .; ** and in the 
legend of the tomb of Rosencreutz, as told in the 379th number 
of the Spectator. Transferred to Britain, it has peopled the 
mountain and sea-side caves with enchanted warriors and hunts- 
men. Of King Arthur and Sewing-shields I have already 
written in the Borderers' Table Booh. The story crops out in 
the tale of the "Wizard's Cave" at Tynemouth.ft The 
correct legend about Dunstanborough Castle tells that its 

* Plutarch. 

f Gibbon. 

+ Paulus Diaconus de Gestis Longobardum, lib. i. c. 4. Olaus 
Magnus Historia de Gentibus Septentrionalibus, Soma;, 1555, lib. i. c. 3. 

§ Mrs. Herman's Works, ii. p. 65. Quarterly Review, March, 

II Inglis's Journey through Noru-ay, Siveden, and Denmark, p. 
290, 291. Quarterly Renew, tibi sup. 

H Menzel's History of Germany, i. p. 487. Quarterly Review, 

** Keightley's Fairy Mythology, p. 234 

•ft Hone's Table Bool; ii. p. 747-750. 


chieftain was charmed with his hounds, his sword, and bugle- 
hom, and enclosed in one of the vaults of that ancient fortress ; * 
the adjuncts of Monk Lewis, Service, and others being 
imaginary. At Fast Castle the adventurer comes out a hoary- 
headed man, minus his coat-tails. In the Cheviots the cave 
contains "three men in armour" surrounded with their 
" hounds, hawks, and horses." f Sir Walter Scott in 
an early poem makes them an army assembled by the spells 
of Sir Michael Scott to aid Halbert Kerr.J Sometimes 
they are to return with Thomas of Ercildoune; and mean- 
while remain entranced within the chambers of the Eildon 
Hills. § The vault at Roslin holds alive a warrior who may 
be approached every seven years ; and the difficulty to free him 
here, as well as elsewhere, depends on the choice of the horn or 
the sword. Thomas the Rhymer, with a mighty host, lies asleep 
under Tom-na-hurich, a mountain near Inverness. 

" Beside each coal-black courser sleeps a knight ; 
A raven plume waves o'er each helmed crest, 
And black the mail which binds each manly breast, 
Girt with broad faulchion, and with bugle green. — 
Say, who is he, with summons strong and high, 
That bids the charmed sleep of ages fly ; — 
While each dark warrior rouses at the blast, 
His hom, his faulchion grasps with mighty hand, 
And peals proud Arthur's march from Fairy-land ! " 


* Widdrington, a Tale of lledgely Moor, by James Hall, p. 84. 
Alnwick, 1827. 

f Poems by Robert Davidson of Mm-cbattlc, p. Hi. 

\ Locklmrl's Life of Sir Walter Scott, i. p. 310, &c. 

§ Scott's Demonologu, p. l."3 ; where a similar story is cited 
from Reginald Scott's Discovery oj Witchcraft . Ley den's Poetical 
HemuiiiK, p. ;!."i7. 

262 the denham tracts. 

The Bells of Brinkburn. 

Centuries ago, one of the priors of Brinkburn presented the 
bells of that building to the priory of Durham. They had been 
the pride of the secluded sanctuary on the Coquet, for their 
tones were possessed of great power combined with sweetness, 
and many tempting offers had Durham made to secure them, 
but hitherto to no purpose. But she prevailed at length, and 
the bells so coveted were removed from the tower and dis- 
patched on horseback on their way to Durham, under the care 
of some monks. They journeyed till they reached the river 
Font, which owing to a quantity of rain having fallen was 
much swelled. However, they prepared to ford it ; but when 
the horses reached the middle of the stream the bells bysome 
means fell, or according to the popular belief were removed 
from the backs of the horses by miraculous interposition, 
and sank to the bottom. Owing either to the dangerous state 
of the stream, or from the bells being unwilling to be removed, 
the exertions of the monks to recover them proved unavailing ; 
so they returned to Brinkburn and reported the disaster. But 
the Brinkburn prior determined not to be baffled, sent forth- 
with a messenger to Durham to request the presence of his 
brother prior, and both ecclesiastics then proceeded with a fidl 
attendance to liberate the imprisoned bells, and lo ! the 
superior abilities of high church functionaries over humble 
monks were manifest to every one. For they had no sooner 
ridden into the stream, than the bells were lifted with ease; 
and being conveyed to Durham, were lodged there in safety. 
To this day it is a saying in Coquetdale that " Brinkburn bells 
are hoard at Durham ; " and Wallis, in his History of 
Northumberland, assures us that the bells of Brinkburn were 
removed to the cathedral on the banks of the Wear. Still there 
art; doubters. Waller White in 185'.), sav.s " the deep pool 


where the bells were lost is still to be seen in the river" 
[Coquet] ;* and Mr. Wilson is positive that some years 
ago, " a fragment of the bell was found buried at the root of a 
tree, on the hill on the opposite side of the river." f 

I fear that several of the tales of " flitted" bells are popular 
myths. Thus tradition says that the bell of Coldingham 
Abbey was transported to Lincoln, and is still there. J It 
was a popular opinion that the bells of Jedburgh Abbey were 
lost in the Tweed opposite Kelso, in an attempt made to feriy 
them across. Another tradition is " that they were carried off 
to Hexham, and fitted up to adorn the venerable cathedral 
there." § Of the bells of the abbey of Cambuskenneth in 
Clackmannanshire, it is reported that one was for some time in 
the town of Stirling, but that the finest was lost in its passage 
across the river Forth. || The bell of Morvern Church had 
been transferred from Iona. T There is a tradition that St. 
Maree used to preach at a place called Ashig, on the north-east 
coast of the Isle of Skye, " and that he hung a bell in a tree, 
where it remained for centuries. It was dumb all the week till 
sunrise on Sunday morning, when it rang of its own accord till 
sunset. It was subsequently removed to the old church of 
Strath, dedicated to another saint, where it ever afterwards 
remained dumb ; and the tree on which it had so long hung 
after withered away." ** Bells were sometimes not satisfied 

* Northumberland and the Border, p. 187. 

■(■ Berwickshire Naturalists' Club's Proceedings, iv. p. 140. 

X Fullarton's Gazetteer of Scotland, i. p. 290. Hunter's 
Coldingham Priory, p. 75. 

§ Hilson's Guide to Jedburgh, p. 15. 

|| Fullarton's Gazetteer, i. p. '2S'.i. 

•[ Dr. N. M'Leod in Good Words, 1863, p. 8o7. 

•• Dr. \V, Reeves on St. Maclrubha, in Proceeding* of Society 
of Antiquaries oj Scotland, vol, iii. p. 2'J1. 


with their new positions. They required to be tied, till they 
were reconciled to the change. Many of them, says Brand, 
" are said to have retained great affection for the churches to 
which they belonged, and where they were consecrated. "When 
a bell was removed from its original and favourite situation, it 
was sometimes supposed to take a nightly trip to its old place of 
residence, unless exercised in the evening, and secured with a 
chain or rope.* 

The tolling of the bell of Brinkburn Priory was once the 
occasion of the burning of the pile by a party of marauding 
Scots, who would not have discovered its situation, so densely it 
stood embosomed in woods, except for this imprudence, f 

Mr. Wilson says the fairies lie buried at Brinkburn. This 
mortality, unheard of elsewhere, must have been attributable to 
the potency of the bells. Half a century ago the bell of the 
parish kirk of Hounam, in Roxburghshire, fell ; in consequence 
of which the banished fairies reassembled from the ends of the 
earth, to resume their revelry on the green banks of the Kale. 
But the mischief that they perpetrated was insufferable, and as 
a remedy the bell was reinstated, when matters were restored 
in statu quo ante.% This is true to the general belief about 
these beings. " There is a hill near Botna, in Sweden, in which 
formerly dwelt a troll, a sort of Scandinavian fairy. When 
they got up bells in Botna Church, and he heard the ringing of 
them, he is related to have said : 

" Pleasant it were in Botnahill to dwell, 
Were it not for the sound of that plaguey bell." 

u It is said that a farmer having found a troll sitting very dis- 
consolate on a stone near Tiis lake, in the island of Zealand, 

* Brand's Popular Antiquities, ii. 136. 

| Richardson's 'Table Book, Leg. Div., i. p. 223. 

$ Davidson's Poems, p. 100, &c. 222, 2i 



and taking him at first for a decent Christian man, accosted 
him with ' Well ! where are you going, friend ? ' ' Ah ! ' said 
he, in a melancholy tone, ' I am going off out the country. I 
cannot live here any longer, they keep such eternal ringing and 
dinging!' "* 

Superstitions connected with Holed Stones. 

In the western part of Cornwall there are several ancient 
monuments known by the name of " Holed Stones." They 
consist of thin slabs of granite, each being pierced by a round 
hole, generally near its centre. They vary in size and in form. 
The monument to which I would now more particu- 
larly call attention is at Tolven Cross Formerly it was 

a conspicuous object by the wayside ; but within the last twelve 
or fourtoon years a house has been built betwixt it and the road. 
It now forms part of a garden hedge. In a field adjoining the 
opposite side of the road, perhaps eighteen j-ards from the stone, 
is a low irregular barrow, about twenty yards in diameter and 
studded with small mounds. Dr. Borlase has alluded to the 
superstitious practice of drawing children through the holed 
stone at Madron to cure them of weakness or pains in the back, 
a practice still observed at the holed stone at St. Constantine. I 
was told that some remarkable cures had been effected there 
only a few weeks since. The ceremony consists of passing the 
child nine times through the hole alternately from one side to 
tho other, and it is essential to success that the operation should 
finish on that side where there is a little grassy mound, recently 
made, on which the patient must sleep with a sixpence under his 
head. A trough-like stone, called tho " cradle," on the eastern 
side of tho barrow, was formerly used for this purpose. This 

* KviglilU'v's Fairy Mi/l/ivhy//, p. 11:.'. 


stone unfortunately has long been destroyed. That holed stones 
were not originally constructed for the observance of this pecu- 
liar custom is evident, for in some instances the holes are not 
more than five or six inches in diameter. A few years ago a 
person digging close to the Tolveh discovered a pit in which were 
fragments of pottery, arranged in circular order, the whole being 
covered by a flat slab of stone. Imagining that he had disturbed 
some mysterious place, with commendable reverence he imme- 
diately filled up the pit again. Taking the proximity of the 
barrow in connection with the pit, it seems most probable that 
the Tolven is a sepulchral monument, stones of this kind being 
erected perhaps to a peculiar class of personages. — Alnwick 
Mercury, Oct. 1, 1869. 


In treating of warnings believed to be sent to relatives before 
the death of their near connections, I speak of incidents that 
were communicated by parties who, as it is expressed, have 
long since " gaen to their place," it is hoped to a better one, 
for worthy, well- living people they were, although haunted with 
the infirmity of a superstitious foreboding. They are all from 
humble life. E. H., on the night on which her grandfather 
died, was engaged in darning stockings in the house of her 
half-sister, whose grandfather this was not, when she heard as 
if a person was moaning in the adjacent cottage. Her half- 
sister, who was in bed, on its being alluded to, said she had not 
heard any noise ; and when she went out to inquire at the other 
house they were at rest in bed, and she could not obtain an 
answer. When she returned and resumed her work, she 
became once more conscious of the sounds of distant moaning. 
When morning arrived, there was nothing the matter with the 
people in the oilier house ; but three days afterwards, when 


the news came of her relative's decease, she found that the 
time corresponded with that during which she had been listen- 
ing to those mysterious tokens of human agony, but her relative 
had passed away quietly without a murmur. 

The same grandfather had also been forewarned, once in his 
lifetime, of some approaching calamity before the death of his 
first wife. On returning from selling some sheep, he saw 
before him the vision of a man, with a corn rope or band in 
his hand, as if he were preparing to tie up a sheaf, which 
vanished from before his eyes when he reached the spot where 
it appeared. 

Her father and another man, when once thrashing with the 
flail in the barn, heard twice or thrice a singular noise, as if 
something was screwed down from the roof, and then fell on 
the floor. Her father, thinking it was fire, went to extinguish 
it with his foot. " Ah ! " said the other man, who had appre- 
hended its ominous character, " ye needna tramp it oot, it's a 
warning for you an' for me." And accordingly, shortly after 
that, the other man had one of his children, and her father his 
wife and two of his children, carried off by fever. 

These are Berwickshire occurrences, but the same creed was 
prevalent about the same period in Northumberland. An old 
man who lived on Tyneside told me that three sharp taps had 
been applied to the window before his first wife died, but they 
were not taken into account till all was over.* He had an 
aunt who had got a token of the death of all her kindred except 
one, whose wraith she was vouchsafed to behold instead thereof. 
One day she was surprised to see this relative, who was a 
carrier, on a day customary for him to be elsewhere, approach- 
ing towards her across a lea, within view of the door of her 

* For death-warnings by tluv distinct knocks on the bed's-liead, 
see Aubrey's MitatluiifS, \i[>. 121-2, Loudon, 1721. 


house, where she stood. She remarked to a neighbour, who 
was also looking out at her own door, what could have brought 
such a one there at that time of the week; but her neighbour, 
who may not have perceived anything, made no relevant reply. 
On that very day the carrier was drowned in crossing the 
Tyne, the water being stiff, and he seated on a pack-horse 
was hampered in directing its movements, and swept away. 
This same dame also felt so sure of her sagacious prescience, 
that she on one occasion foretold the death of one of her 
neighbours, a lass possibly consumptive, who sold milk. 
Having asked one of the place who had been purchasing 
her morning's supply of milk how she was, the answer was, 
" Weil ! " " Aye," says she, " she'll flit soon," and she died 
next day. 

A joiner's wife in the country above Hexham got a " token " 
of her husband's death. It was on a Sunday, and he had gone 
to church, and she being left at home was on the outlook at 
the period when she expected his return. She saw him on his 
way back, as she thought, go past a dike-end, but he was so 
long in arriving afterwards that she wondered, and again went 
outside the house ; and although the whole of the road was in 
view, she saw nothing of him. After a short suspense, how- 
ever, her husband reached the house, but took to bed that after- 
noon and never left it. 

A man in Wooler heard three raps before his father died. 
His father dropped down suddenly shortly afterwards at Wooler 
" High Fair." 

These stories may be accounted trivial, but they show the 
incipient stages of still more extravagant beliefs, and some of 
them have no doubt been propagated traditionally. The 
narrators will sometimes express their unbelief by the qualify- 
ing statement that " wc needna mind thae freits," or it's "just 
an aukl frcit." 


Again, A. C. believed that she had a warning of the death 
of her daughter shortly before she departed. She and her 
husband were watching beside the sick bed, when, at four 
o'clock in the morning, she heard a rap on the bed-head. 
" Ah ! " she exclaimed, addressing her husband, "my daughter's 
gone. Did you hear that ? " He rose, and observed that the 
child was asleep ; but in the afternoon of that day, at four o'clock, 
the hour foreshadowed, the child died. 

Another woman had got warnings of the death of all her 
brothers except one, who still survived, far away from his 
native district, or much communication with her, being resident 
in the vicinity of London, while she dwelt in the northern part 
of Northumberland. Poor people who have no other earthly 
ties are much perplexed about the welfare of their relatives out 
of reach of being visited. In this instance, for about a week, his 
sister had most troublous dreams regarding her last brother, 
and told a friend of her apprehensions for his health. This was 
about three weeks before word reached her of his sudden illness, 
and a letter following announced his death. 

Another individual dreamt of witnessing the marriage of a 
neighbour who was already a married man, but who was at 
present from home at a distance. While he was relating the 
circumstances of his dream to his wife, this man came homo 
taken badly and died shortly after, for, said the narrator who 
told these stories and thoroughly believed them, " to dream of a 
marriage is a sign of death." 

From the same party I derived a specimen of some warnings 
believed in among the colliery population near Newcastle. Near 
Heaton, a woman was returning one night from a visit to one of 
her gossips who was sick and lived about a mile away. As she 
passed the mouth of a certain pit near tho road she saw, as it 
were, a white female rise up, who in a short time grew in size 
and assumed the shape of a white galloway of fiery temper, which 


struck the coals about the pit mouth with its heels, as if 
pawing in eagerness to cleave the clouds, causing the particles 
to fly so as even to reach her, and while she was concerned 
about the annoyance this occasioned her it had vanished. 
Although she never had had any experience of such apparitions, 
she augured disaster from it, either to her friend or the pit. 
One to whom she told it was sceptical and declared he would go 
next night to the pit at one o'clock and see if there was any 
truth in the vision, and wonderful to tell he beheld the same 
wild thing she had done, and was so overcome that he swarfed 
for fear. It was seen by another party a third time, and the 
next day after four men were killed in the pit. 

In a letter from Mr. Denham, dated October 27th, 1852, he 
gave me a good example of a wraith, from Westmoreland, which 
may be appropriately told here. " I have heard a curious relation 
of two men, father and son (the latter of whom I knew for forty 
years, and he only died this year), seeing the ghost of a naked 
woman in crossing a lonesome moor in Westmoreland by night. 
What is singular, the one said to the other, it is so and so, 
naming the female whom both knew. On getting to their home, 
some two or three miles distant, the first news which met their ear 
was the death of the individual above alluded to in childbirth, 
nearly an hour previous. This relation has ever occurred to me 
as the most simple and singular ghost story that ever I met with. 
The name of the father was Isaac Nelson, of the son, John. 
They were natives of Westmoreland, and respectable yeomen." 

The following is from Bee's Diary, January 17th, 1684-5: 
"Departed this life John Borrow (of Durham), and 'twas 
reported y* he see a coach drawn by 6 swine, all black, and a 
black man satt upon cotch box ; he fell sick upon't and dyed, 
and of his death soverall apparations appeared after." 

A dog at one place gave three tremendous yoicls, in the dead 
of night, before a person died. It came to the door for the 
purpose and had to be driven away. 


In the vicinity of Kendal, in Westmoreland, a cock-crowing 
at night is often considered as ominous of something evil to the 
family. "A few years ago," says Mr. Pearson in a paper on 
tho Superstitions of Westmoreland, " I had a servant, an elderly 
man, who was much disturbed because the cock took it into his 
head to crow in the night-time, frequently before we went to 
bed. Whenever this was the case, it was perceived that it threw 
him into no small perturbation. He was afraid that either death 
or some great calamity would occur to some of us. And what 
was indeed curious, a female to whom he was much attached 
did indeed die soon afterwards, so that there is no doubt he is 
more than ever confirmed in the belief that a cock-crowing in 
the night is ominous of death or some great misfortune "* 

In Fifeshire, I was told by an acquaintance, an old cock — for 
had it been a young one it would have been the less thought of — 
crew about eight o'clock at night. A person was sent out, who 
caught and brought it into the house, and "threw its neck 
about." This was a death-omen to the family, unless the spell 
had been reversed by killing the cock. 

Dr. Beattie, tho poet and philosopher, evinced " a singular 
but deep-rooted aversion all his life for the crowing of a cock ; " f 
perhaps it arose from this popular superstition about cock- 

In Westmoreland, " a dog howling three times, a cock crow- 
ing the same number before midnight, putting a stocking on 
wrong side out — theso are all considered very ominous things, 
and bring a gloom on a weak mind which will last a whole 

In North Northumberland it is said that " the coroner never 

• London Saturday Journal, March 31, 1841, vol. i. p. 131. 
■)• Sir W. Forbcs's Life of Beattie, ii. p. 243. 
| Loudon Saturday Journal, vol. i. p. 134. 


comes once but he comes twice/' i.e. if one fatal death occurs, 
two will be sure to follow. Also, if one breaks a dish, it is said 
" there are other two to break yet," i.e. to be broken. In the 
parish of Llanymynech, in Montgomeryshire, " there is a saying 
much credited that ' if one dies there will be three, if four die 
there will be six.' This signifies, that whenever a funeral takes 
place there are generally two more within a short time, and 
should there happen to be four there will be two more." * If 
one has anything stolen from them it is a token of evil to follow, 
was believed in at Newcastle. In Montgomeryshire " the loss 
of articles of common use, or even the dropping of them acci- 
dentally, is thought to be a token." f 

If one dream that a tooth is out it is a sign of a relative's 

An old man had got warnings at the death of all his children 
who had died, but one was still left to him. One day a drop of 
blood gathered at his nose, which he observing, exclaimed sor- 
rowfully, "Ah! my son's dead." It was too true, for a letter 
arrived next day which confirmed the omen. 

There is a good description of a Warning, agreeable to the 
popular belief, in the Border novel of Matthew Paxton, the scene 
of which is laid in Northumberland, close to the Tillside. 

"Before the story had lost its first freshness in my mind, an 
aunt of mine, far away in Liddesdale, was very ill, though I 
knew it not, sick unto death, and my mother was away west to 
see her, when one night I was riding by myself alone along a 
very lonely road far away from any house, on my way home 
from a day's visiting, at a part of the road where nobody could 
be hiding to fright me, I heard my name called three times, 

* John Fewtrell in Montgomeryshire Collections by Powys-Land 
Club, vol. xiii. p. 125 (1880). 
t Ibid., p. 126. 


Matthew, Matthew, Matthew, in a voice I could not clearly 
mind, but so like my mother's or my aunt's that I thought it 
was one of them. I did not think much of it at the time, but a 
few days after I got a letter from Liddesdale, with a black seal, 
and saw that my aunt had died at that very hour that I had 
heard the voice, so I could not help connecting these things in 
my own mind and thinking it was a warning from the depart- 
ing spirit to me." * 

Physical Endowments or Impekfeotions. 

It is a belief not only in the north of England but also on the 
Continent, that the seventh son of a family, born without any 
girl intervening, is endued with sovereign virtue — the power 
once attributed to crowned heads — of healing diseases by the 
touch, and that he is destined to be a skilful and eminent phy- 
sician/)- As an attestation of his capabilities, a representation of 
" the seven starns " is believed to be impressed on his side or 
his breast. A medical practitioner, near Newcastle, to flatter 
one of his customers, told a mother that she should make her 
newly-born seventh son a doctor. '"Deed," she says, "I havena' 
the means to make him a doctor, but if ye'll take him yersell, 
and make him one, you're welcome to hao him, as I've dealt 
sae lang wi' ye." If a seventh daughter appeared in uninter- 
rupted succession, she was to be a witch. 

On October 17, 1663, one William Moulthrope, a Pontefraet 
labourer, was called in question for speaking seditious words of 
Charles II. Among other expressions which he used were 
these: "What is the king better than another man? for 
Robin Bulman (meaninge one Robin Bulman, of Pontefraet, 

* Matthew Paxton, 3 vols , London, 1854, vol. ii. pp. 181-2. 
f See also Aubrey's Miscellanies, p. 129. 


laborer), a seaventh sonne, can cure seaven evils, and the kinge 
can but cure nine, soe that the kinge is but two degrees better 
than Eobert Bulman."* A prescription in the Physician of 
Myddvai, p. 456, for the cure of warts is: " Wash the warts 
with the water from a font in which the seventh son of the same 
man and wife is baptised." 

A popular but strange remedy for sleep-walking, is the 
peculiar attribute of individuals born with their feet first. A 
benevolent and even sensible old lady, thus privileged " in life's 
morning march," once rose from what proved a mortal illness 
to cure her grandchild who was afflicted with this unreasonable 
restlessness. This she did by stamping nine times with her 
naked feet on his breast. 

In Northumberland there are what are called "evil- eyed" 
and " bad-handed " people. Those who have the misfortune to 
labour under the latter imperfection, if they set a cletch of 
chickens, or even handle the eggs, they will miscarry. Mrs. 
Fen wick, a farmer's wife, has been notified to me as having a 
" bad hand," and the servants had to set the cletch of chickens. 

Egg-setting, I am told, is not such a simple process as one 
would think, but has to be gone about after a form, and has 
annexed to it certain well-established conclusions. I will here 
place a few of its saws and observances, which are from Ber- 

It takes thirteen eggs to a cleckin, odd numbers being lucky. 

" Wet-fited " ('meaning web-footed) " beasts sit a month, and 
hens three weeks." 

If eggs are set before the sun go down they come out cocks ; 
if later in the evening hens are hatched. 

If eggs are attempted to be set on a Sunday the chickens will 
" not come out." 

* Depositions from York Castle, p. 101. 


Housewives don't set eggs in May, although it is confessed 
that when set in that month they produce the strongest birds. 

The Sign of Life. 

Professor Lebour, of the University of Durham College of 
Science, New castle, furnishes me with a somewhat singular super- 
stition, which I have not seen noted elsewhere, called " The 
Sign of Life." " The expression is one," he writes, " I have 
only met with in the neighbourhood of Falstone, up North Tyne, 
where a peculiar tremulous involuntary twitching of the eye 
is said to be the ' Sign of Life,' and if repeated a certain number 
of times (three times, I think) in a month or a year (I forget 
which) is supposed to portend great things, but what things — 
whether good or bad — I cannot remember. My chief informant 
with regard to this mysterious ' Sign of Life,' was Mrs. Rob- 
son, the postmistress of Falstone, a very mine of local know- 
ledge. My wife informs me that in the south of England 
(Hampshire and Wiltshire) the same thing is called ' Living 
Blood.' " 

Virtues of Irish People. 

A cow in the Wooler district having been stung by an adder, 
an Irish woman, who laughed all the while at the people's 
application to her, was brought to stroke or rub the swelling 
occasioned by the poison. She was also called on to rub the 
throat, when "the pap o' the hass came down." It is also 
believed that if Irish people spit all round a toad the animal will 
die. On this subject, see Mr. Henderson's Folklore, p. 166. 

The Evii- One. 

A great fear of the presence of the Evil One evoked in- 
advertently pervaded the popular mind. One of the propitia- 

T 2 


tory names given to the malign being was " Owd Harry.'' 
"As cunning as Owd Harry" is a popular phrase. An old 
wife had a grown-up son called Harry, whose Christian name 
she had a maternal pride in unnecessarily repeating. On one 
occasion she was heard saying to him, " Harry, Harry, my 
son Harry, I daurena ca' ye Harry at neet, for fear the deil 
should come." 

After death, and before the deposit of the inanimate body in 
the tomb, watch was placed over it, lest the archfiend should 
claim it — if deceased was one of his disciples — as a perquisite 
that had fairly lapsed. Long ago in a country place in Berwick- 
shire some neighbours were watching beside the corpse of one 
who had been a very wicked man. One of the company, 
happening to go out to the door, beheld a large misshapen 
animal coming up a field towards the house, not quite straight- 
forward, but questing backwards and forwards, as if in search 
for prey. He called out the rest of the company to see the 
ill-looking thing, but they speedily drew back and shut the door. 
Not long after the door opened, and a big dark man entered. 
All betook themselves to prayer. Some raved nonsense, others 
did not know what to do in their perplexity. The man ap- 
proached the bed ; but prayer being maintained he went away, 
" not being commissioned further," as my informant suggested. 
This is a piece of simple peasant lore without exaggeration. 

" The alarm often experienced by country people on their 
seeing a balloon descending on their fields is well known. A 
singular instance is said to have occurred on the Scottish border. 
A shepherd who tended his ' peaceful people,' saw, with con- 
sternation, the aerial phenomenon immediately overhead and 
fled precipitately. The voyager shouted, and threw down a 
crown-piece in hope of tempting him to render assistance. The 
shepherd, seeing the shining bribe and hearing the voice, guessed 
with whom he had to deal, and turning his head towards the 


supposed arch-fiend, cried out : ' Na, na, Satan ! Sauney 
defies thee ! ' " (T. H. Bell, Alnwick, in Newcastle Mag., ii. 
(1823), p. 351.) 

In the case of the will of Thomas Hopper, of Medomsley, son 
of Humphrey Hopper, who died insane 1575-6, the father acts 
as if he considered his disease as being diabolical possession and 
practices exorcism. " The said Umphray conjeured the devyll 
when his sone was madd and raved."* The son " kend not his 
owne father when the said Umphra went to the doore, and came 
in againe and asked the said Thomas, ' Whoe am I ? Am I 
not thy father ? ' And he, the said Thomas, wold say, ' Thou 
art the blak devell of Edeedsbrig.' And then the sayd Um- 
phray saynd the said Thomas and corssed (crossed) hym, and 
spyttyd, and said, ' Away, devell/ many times. "f During one 
violent paroxysm the attendant could not control the patient, 
and was obliged to waken the father to assist. " Then this 
examinato cauld of the said Umphray out of his bedd, which, 
seinge hys sone, the said Thomas, in that radg, maid a compas 
about his said sone Thomas bedd, and spytted and said, ' Fye, 
away, thou fowell theife, that comes to tempt us,' sainge to his 
son Thomas many times, ' Thou or I have oifended God.' "\ 

There was one Cuddy (Cuthbert, a common name in St. 
Cuthbert's territory) Blacket, who lived at Howburn or 
Holborn, in Lowick parish, in the era of Buonaparte's wars, 
and being a volunteer he had occasion to come and go to 
Belford to undergo military training. One night he got 
fuddled, and in returning home was passing over a stone laid 
for a bridge across a ditch or burn in the Bogle House Plant- 

* Depositions and other Ecclesiastical Proceedings at Lurliam, 
p. 271. 
t Hid,, p 272. 
\ lliitl., p. 275. 


ing. He might have been lost on the broad heathery moor that 
surrounds it, but at this juncture he foregathered with a gentle- 
man dressed in black who conducted him to Howburn. He 
was the civilest gentleman he ever encountered, but before he 
had gained an undue influence over him he chanced to glance 
at his feet, and behold ! they were cloven. The Bogle-houses 
— houses in Lowick Forest, consisting of a few humble 
cottages inhabited by pitmen — was an uncanny place, notable 
for ferlies being seen about it and unearthly noises being heard, 
which may have been only the wailings of the wind exaggerated 
by the fears of the lonely dwellers. 


Sowing hempseed is part of the Halloween ritual as pre- 
served by Robert Burns. In Northumberland its practice does 
not appear to have been confined to the epoch of that festival. 
The direction is : Go in at one door of the barn and out at 
another, and while sowing the hempseed say : 

" Hemp seed I sow tliee 
And she (or he) that is to be my true love, 
Come after me and mow thee." 

On looking over the left shoulder the form of his or her lover 
will be seen cutting down the visionary crop. To deter one 
making the experiment, it is told that a too curious girl, having 
gone through the operation, was shocked on looking behind to 
see a coffin. This was practised in Dorsetshire on Midsummer 
eve. (W. Barnes, in Hone's Year Book, 1175.) 

Another form of prying into the future was to go to the 
churchyard and look through the keyhole; but unfortunately 
my informant had forgotten the remainder. 


Put your shoes with the soles turned upwards beneath your 
pillow as you turn in to sleep and repeat, 

" I hope this night that I may see, 
The woman that's my bride to be ; 
Not clothed in her rich array, 
But in clothes that she wears every day," 

and you will be favoured in a dream with a sight of her who is 
destined to be your wife. The person who told me this had 
gone through the performance successfully. One day after the 
trial, when riding out, he passed a girl and said to himself this is 
she of whom I dreamt. He had a firm conviction that, although 
a stranger, he had seen her before. They became acquainted, 
and subsequently were married. 

In Dorsetshire if a girl, " at going to bed, put her shoos at 
right angles with each other, in the shape of a T, and say, 

" Hoping this night my true love to see, 
I place my shoes in the form of a T " 

she will be sure to see her husband in a dream, and perhaps 
in reality by her bedside." (W. Barnes, ubi sup.) 

" Whenever I go to lye in a strange bed I always tye my 
garter 9 times round the bed post, and knit nine knots in it, 
and say to myself : 

' This knot I knit, this knot I tye, 
To see my love as he goes by ; 
In his apparel'd array, 
As he walks in every day.' " 

Connoisseur, No. 5G. 

" You must bo in anothor county, and knit, the left garter 
about tho right-logged stocking (let the other garter and stocks 


ing alone), and as you rehearse these following verses, at every 
comma knit a knot : 

1 This knot I knit, 
To know the thing, I know not yet, 
That I may see, 

The man (woman) that shall my husband (wife) be, 
How he goes and what he wears, 
And what he does all days, and years.' 

" Accordingly in your dream you will see him ; if a musician, 
■with a lute or other instrument ; if a scholar, with a hook or 
paper." (Aubrey's Miscellanies, p. 137.) 

" A gentlewoman that I knew confessed in my hearing that 
she used this method, and dreamt of her husband, whom she had 
never seen. About two or three years after, as she was on 
Sunday at church (at Our Lady's Church in Sarum), up pops a 
young Oxonian in the pulpit. She cries out presently to her 
sister, ' This is the very face of the man I saw in my dream.' 
Sir William Soames's lady did the like." * 

" Lovers in an open passage at night sought to see through 
the meshes of a riddle the form of their future partners in con- 
nubial life."f 

This custom is said to have been common in Northumberland 
without any form of words, it being sufficient to secure a dream 
of one's lover, when in a strange bed, to tie the garter round 
the bedpost. 

If one eats a red herring raw to supper, and goes to bed 
backward, not saying a word, he will dream of his future wife 
before the morning. 

On the appearance of the first moon after the new year, look 

* Aubrey's Miscellanies, pp. 137-8. 

| Hodgson's Hist, of Northumberland, part 2, vol. ii. p. 329. 


through a black silk handkerchief unwashed at it, and you will 
see by the number of moons visible the number of years that 
will elapse before you are married. In the Glasgow Mechanics' 
Magazine, No. 60 (1825), we have a query : " Observe the new 
moon through a silk napkin, and the number of moons visible 
will denote her age in days. This holds good till she is five or 
six days old. What is the cause of this phenomenon ? " There 
are few young people in the country who have not tried this 

Another way with the moon is to charm it thus : " At the 
first appearance of the new moon after New Year's Day (some 
say any other new moon is as good), go out in the evening and 
stand over the spars of a gate or stile looking on the moon, and 


' All hail to the moon, all hail to thee, 
I prithee good moon reveal to me 
This night, who my husband (wife) must be.' 

<( In Yorkshire they kneel on a ground-fast stone- You must 
presently after go to bed. I knew two gentlewomen that did 
thus when they were young maids, and they had dreams of 
thoso that married them." * 

At Wooler servant girls tie their left-leg stocking round 
their neck in order to dream of him whom they were to get for 
a husband. The first cut of " baby's cheese " is used to dream 
upon with similar intent ; so also is a portion of the plateful of 
cake thrown over the bride's head immediately before she 
enters her future home, as well as a narrow piece of the bride's 
cake passed nine times through the wedding ring, this being 

* Aubrey's Miscellanies, p. 138 ; quoted, but not exactly, in Mr. 
Henderson's Folklore, p. 115; the omitted particulars are worth 
knowing, and therefore I repent it. It is said to be customary in the 
Highlands of Scotland (Napier's Folklore, p. 98). 


done of purpose for " dreaming pieces." Sops are made in 
beer, and a ring introduced, and then they are supped, and the 
first to whom the ring falls is to be first wed. 

6. Although both Mr. Denham and Mr. Henderson have 
treated of the " Even-ash " leaf, they have not the exact North- 
umbrian formula. The leaf of the ash which has an equal 
number of divisions on each side, which is very difficult to 
obtain, is pulled with the following rhyme : 

" Even, even, ash, 

I pull thee off the tree, 
The first young man that I do meet. 
My lover he shall be." 

It is then placed in the left shoe. It is also said, " Even- 
ash, under the shoe, will get you a sweetheart." 

The same friend, now deceased, who supplied me with the 
above from Long Benton, communicated, in 1845, the following 
varieties of divining in a small way. 

" Scalding pease is common. My mother has seen a bean placed 
in a swad, the receiver, whether male or female, is to be first 
married. On Carling Sunday, in some parts of Northumber- 
land, fried pease are served up on a dish. Every one of the 
company is furnished with a spoon ; they help themselves in 
regular succession, until the quantity is too small to allow of 
that mode of division. They then dole out one at a time, 
and whoever gets the last will be first married. 

11 Saint Agnes's Fast. — My father knew a woman who tried this 
charm, but contrary to the usual number of one, saw actually three, 
the last of whom had a wooden leg. This woman had the second 
man whom she saw in her dream, when she told my father of the 
circumstance ; adding that she thought it very improbable that 
she would get the third, as he (a neighbour) had then a wife 
alive, and sho had a dislike to his wooden leg ; but who can 


control the fates ! this man's wife dying, and her husband also, 
she so far conquered her aversion to his timber toe as to become 
his for better for worse." 

On the eve of St. Agnes's day (January 21), says Brand,* 
" many kinds of divination are practised by virgins to discover 
their future husbands. This is called fasting St. Agnes's Fast." 

" Hupperless to bed they must retire, 
Nor look behind nor sideways ; but require 
Of heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire."f 

" In Scotland, a number of young men and women met 
together on St. Agnes's eve at midnight, went, one by one, to 
a certain field and threw in some grain, after which they 
repeated the following rhyme : — 

' Agnes sweet, and Agnes fair, 
Hither, hither, now repair ; 
Bonny Agnes, let me see 

The lad who is to marry me. ' " 

The shadow of the destined bride or bridegroom was 
supposed to be seen in a looking-glass on this very night."J 
" On St. Agnes night, 21 day of January," says Aubrey, 
" take a row of pins and pull out every one, one after another, 
saying a pater noster (or Our Father), sticking a pin in your 
sleeve, and you will dream of him or her you shall marry ."§ 

Near Kendal " there were ceremonies in use not long 
ago of rather an awful nature, which for those who had the 
courage to use them were said to yield the desired information. 

Pop. Antiq., i. p. 21. 

f Keats' Eve of St. Agnes, st. vi. 

\ English Folklore, by the Rev. T. F. Thisclton Dyer, p. ] 81. 

§ Aubrey's Miscellanies, p. l:)G. London, 1721. 


One was to walk backwards round a church three times on a 
certain night in the year, and then sit down in the porch, when 
the ghosts of their intended husbands or wives would pass 
before them; but if they were unfortunately not destined to 
enjoy that happy state, then they would see the apparition of 
their coffins. I recollect when a boy hearing an old man aver 
that he had gone through this trying ordeal ; and that the 
apparitions of his two wives passed before him in the order he 
afterwards married them."* Something similar to this was 
practised in Yorkshire on St. Mark's eve, but it required three 
years' continuous vigils — See Brand's Pop. Antiq., i. p. 115 — 
also on Midsummer eve, when all that were to die that year in 
the parish passed by in procession into the church. {Ibid., 
p. 170.) 

To this class of beliefs belongs the superstition about the 
" She-Holly," which I first related in the Local Historians' 
Table Book, iii. pp. 254, 255 ; but as that work is out of print 
and becoming scarce, I may now transfer it here. 

In Northumberland holly is divided into two kinds, he and 
she. He has prickles, but of she, being the upper leaves of the 

" Smooth and unarmed the pointless leaves appear." 

The leaves of the she -holly possess the wondrous virtue, if 
gathered in a proper manner, of exciting dreams concerning 
that momentous topic — a future husband or wife. To ensure this 
the leaves must be plucked upon a Friday evening, about mid- 
night, by parties who, from their setting out until next day at 
dawn, must preserve unbroken silence. They are to be col- 
lected in a three-cornered handkerchief, and after being brought 

* Mr. Pearson on Superstitions of Westmoreland, &c, in London 
Saturday Journal, i. p. 131 (1841). 


home, nine of the leaves must be selected and tied with nine 
knots inside the handkerchief, and then placed underneath the 
pillow. A dream worthy of all credit will be the issue. 

My informant was once the leader of a party in an expedi- 
tion that promised, by means of these potent holly leaves, to 
unlock the secrets of futurity. It consisted of himself, at that 
time a farm labourer, of his master's sister, and the female 
servant. When decent folks had gone to bed these three mad- 
caps set out in profound silence for the tree, which stood at a 
farm homestead at a considerable distance, and having got 
there they provided themselves with the requisite supply. On 
their way back it added much to the frolic that each endea- 
voured to induce his or her fellows to break, in a heedless 
moment, the silence essential to the rite. This, though produc- 
tive of much mirth, elicited no profane vocable. As the head 
of the party lived at a separate farmhouse, it was previously 
agreed that if on going home he should be refused admittance 
he was to return, and his two companions would provide him 
with a bed beside the master. The difference between master 
and servant at that period was not so wide as to make this to 
be reckoned an impropriety. He went home and knocked, 
but as he would not answer the questions put to him he was 
forced to return to his master's house, into which he was 
admitted by his expectant partners. At the time he entered 
his master's bedroom, which was upstairs, the master happened 
to be asleep ; and he having undressed as quietly as possible and 
prepared his holly, crept in behind him. This, however, roused 
the slumbering farmer, who was surprised to find his bed 
invaded in this unceremonious way. " Wha's thou?" he 
shouts out. No reply. "Is thee, Geordy?" (his first-born, 
who lived at an off-farm). Deep silence. " Is thee, Tommy? " 
(another of his sons). No answer. " Is't thee, Michael?" 
(the real person). Michael heard him well enough, but pre- 


tended to snore in sleep. The farmer in some perplexity was 
about to don his garments and descend to the kitchen to inquire 
after his singular bedfellow. It was well he did not, as the 
parties below would have equally tantalised him with dumb 
show. As it was, they were both stationed at the bedroom 
door, ill-able to restrain their pent-up mirth. The farmer at 
length, supposing the intruder to be actually asleep, and that 
he could be none other than he had surmised, judged it most 
advisable to follow his example. When morning arrived the 
whole thing was explained, and the farmer enjoyed a hearty 
laugh at his own share in the pantomime. The result of the 
matter was that Michael had a dream, in which he saw two 
damsels, of whom, the thoughts of the evening being uppermost, 
the master's sister was one, but neither of them was she — or 
rather they, for he was twice married — whom he afterwards led 
before the priest. 

In the island of Bute there is a " dreaming tree " of a 
different species. This is a very lofty pine which grows in the 
centre of au enclosure called the " Devil's Caldron," near St. 
Blane's Chapel, at Kilcatan Bay. This " dreaming tree " to a 
great height " is divested of its foliage by those who wished to 
test its supposed qualities by breaking off small pieces to put 
under their pillows."* 

The game of " keppy ball," as played at Alnwick, at the 
"coban tree," is another example of rural divination, although 
confined to children. I shall again avail myself of an article of 
my own, contributed to a local journal, " On Covin, Coban, or 
Capon Trees." Dr. Jamieson, in his Scottish Dictionary, says 
that in Roxburghshire the covin-tree signifies " a large tree in 
front of an old Scottish mansion-house, where the laird always 
met his visitors." A corruption of it is supposed to be " coglan- 

Wilson's Guide to Rothesay, p. 131. 


tree." He derives it from the French convent, convention or 
agreement ; which again is from the Latin conve?itum, a 
covenant, or conventus, an assembly. Covent, Anglo-Norman, 
is a covenant or agreement in " Morte Arthure." The witches 
of Auldearn met in covines, and the prettiest of them was called 
the maiden of the covine. The covin-tree is thus a variety of 
the trysting-tree, whose name and functions as the place of 
summons in the old " Riding" era, as the spot where rural 
lovers met and plighted troth, or where the exchanges of ser- 
vices and commodities held and still hold their convention, are 
indelibly impressed upon northern language and literature. Sir 
Walter Scott, in a note to his Letters on Demonology and Witch- 
craft, p. 277, holds the same view as Dr. Jamieson. " The tree 
near the front of an ancient castle was called the covine-tree 
probably because the lord received his company there." 

" He is lord of the hunting-horn, 
And king of tho covine tree ; 
He's well lov'd in the western waters, 
But best of his own Minnie." 

When on a visit to Alnwick in 1861 I found it to be well 
understood that a tree, called there a coban or covan tree, onco 
Btood before every old castle (within a bowshot of Alnwick 
Castle for instance), and it was there the lord met his guests. 
And there used to be, and still is, a rhyme having reference to 
it, sung by young girls while playing at " keppy ball," or catch- 
ball, against a tree. From tho time they can keep up the ball, 
they also divine their future prospects as to matrimony or 
spinster life. 

" Keppy ball, keppy ball, covine tree, 
Come down tho lang loanin' and tell to me, 
The form and the features, the speech and degree, 
Of the man that is my true lover to be. 


" Keppy ball, keppy ball, coban tree, 
Come down the lang loanin' and tell to me, 
How many years old (her name) is to be — 

" One a maiden, two a wife, 
Three a maiden, four a wife, 
Five a maiden, six a wife," &c. 

And so on, the odds for the single, the even numbers for the 
married state so long as the ball can be kept rebounding against 
the tree round which they play. 

The Scottish covin and Northumbrian coban trees being 
thus identical, it is shown that capon trees such as that at 
Brompton, in Cumberland, and the capon tree on the Prior's 
haugh at Jedburgh, are of the class, the letters v, b, and p 
being mutually interchangeable in European languages. Mr. 
Tate, to whom I owe the rhyme, in return adopted my theory. 
See History of Alnwick, i. p. 436. 

Tuening the Riddle. 

A much less excusable form of divinations is that called 
''Turning the Riddle." The following is a lively instance: 
One Moll Ha' (Mary Hall) in Wooler, overintimate with 
Satan, was accustomed to resort to this malpractice, at the 
instance of applicants, whenever anything was lost or stolen. 
She turned it and named the thief, and thus " gliffed " (or 
frightened) them to make restitution. One Jenny Sim, having 
had purloined some caps and shifts from a washing laid out to 
dry, had recourse to her, after other means of recovery failed. 
" The old folks of Wooler mind it well ; what a day that was ; 
all the houses shook as if stirred by an invisible wind," for she 
had actually bought up the prince of the power of the air.* 

* To this wo find a parallel in the evidence, April 1, 1670, of 


That this was a very prevalent practice appears from the 
Depositions before the Courts at Durham and those kept at 
York Castle, published in two of the volumes of the Surtees 
Society, Nos. 21 and 40. 26th January, 1566-7, Margareta 
Lambert, against Elizabeth Lawson. " John Lawson, husband 
of Elizabeth, informs that the said Margaret is an exorcist, 
' that for certaine things lackinge she turned a seve upon a pair 
of shores.' "* She was also a reputed " charmer." Between 
1561 and 1577, one Allice Swan, wife of Robert Swan, made tt 
confession after the minister in St. Nicholas Church at New- 
castle, upon Sunday after the Sermon, for turning the riddle and 
Bheares. To this iniquitous act she had been recently incited 
by the means and procurement of Margaret Lawson, Anne 
Hedworth, Elizabeth Kindleside, Agnes Rikerbye, Anne Bewike, 
and Jerrerd Robison. And "not having the feare of God" 
before her eyes, " but following the persuasion of the devell," 
she had " of a filthie lucre and under colour of a singular and 
secret knowledge of lost things, used by the space of certen 
yeres to cast or tourne the riddle and sheares, a kind of divi- 
nation or charming expressedly forbidden by G-ode's lawes and 
the Queue's Majestie."f I 11 1573, Thomas Hardye, of Morpeth, 
shoemaker, had as a hired man one John Bell, who was " sus- 

Margaret, wife of Richard Wilson, who "sayth, that in her former 
husband John Akers' life-time, she once lost out of her purse 50a. 
all but three halfe-pence ; and, shortly after, there hapned to be a 
great wind, and after the wind was downe she mett with Anne 
Wilkinson, who fell into a great rage, bitterly cursing her, and telling 
her that she had bene att a wise man, and had raisd this wiud which 
had put out her eyes, and that she was stout now she had gott her 
money againe." — Depositions from York Castle, p. 177. 

• Depositions at Durham, p. 84. 

f Ibid., p. 117. 



pect of michery (knavery) and untreweth concerning a shirt of 
one Thomas Somer," his fellow- workman, now servant to Eobert 
Turner of Felton. While residing at Morpeth "bytwixt 
Christenmas and Easter," Somer had " his shirt goon [taken 
away] , and maid moch to do for yt ; and the said Bell moved 
this examinate to make no wonder for yt, and said for a grote 
of this deponent's pursse he shuld cause the said shirt to come 
againe, saing that he, the said Bell, reported that ther was a 
wyff in Newcastell, his cosinge, thatculd torne theryddle, etc.; 
and within thre days nexl after this examinate found his said 
shirt that was a laking. And then the said Bell demandyd 4d. 
of this examinate, and this deponent wold not agree to gyve the 
said Bell any thing unless he wold tell hym who had his said 
shirt he lacked." The consequence was that the Aldermen of 
Morpeth, and the representatives of the shoemaker trade, dis- 
charged Bell from working in that town till " he had brought 
them a certificat frome the said wyffe of Newcastell, that she 
could tell of things that weir stolne ; but this he failed to do, 
and therefore he was accounted " to be no honest man." Bell 
required of Somer " 6 names of everge syd of his neighbours," 
along with the 4d., to give to this " wyf of Newcastell that wold 
turne the redell, and get him the shirt within a weack." * 

At Newcastle, February 15, 1659-60, Elizabeth, wife of George 
Simpson of Tynemouth, fisher, was accused for practising witch- 
craft, and besides she was reported to be a charmer, "and 
turnes the sive for money."-)- On December 13, 1598, the wife 
of Thomas Grace, of the parish of Stannington, Northumber- 
land, was presented " for turninge of the ridle for things loste 
and stolne." The Rev. John Hodgson in noticing this case 
says a pair of spring shears were commonly used with the 

* Depositions at Durham, pp. 251, 252. 
f Depositions, $c.,from York Castle, p. 82. 


riddle, " and of their own accord turned round when the name 
of the person who had stolen the goods pursued was called over 

"Dec. 10, 1667. Cumberland. Before Thos. Denton, 
219. Mary, wife of Stephen Johnson, of Carleton, saith, that, 
us shee was coming from Clifton, shee met with Jo. Scott, whoe 
told her that his wife had cast the riddle and sheares for some 
cloathes of George Carre's that was stole ; and one Jo. Webster 
of Clifton, told them that they knew as much as he could tell 
them, and that it was a little bleare-eyed lasse that gott them, 
whoe lived neare them." The Rev. James Kaine, who quotes 
this example, informs us that the formula used by the operator 
was as follows : 

" By St. Peter and by St. Paul 

If has stolen 's 

Turn about riddle and shears and all." j 

Dec. 12, 1596, the wife of Thomas Grace, of Stannington, 
Northumberland, was presented at a visitation for turning the 
riddle for things lost or stolen. (Hodgson.) 


Charmers and fortune-tellers, as distinct from witches, have 
long maintained their trade in the north of England, nor is the 
belief in " spaeing women " yet obsolete, even in the busiest 
haunts of industry on the Tyne or Wear. There are several 
examples recorded in the depositions before the Ecclesiastical 
Courts at Durham, which carry back the practice to a remote 
poriotl. In October, 1446, Mariotde Belton and Isabella Brome 

* Hodgson's Hist, of Northumberland, part ii. vol. ii. p. 329. 
f Depositions, $c.,from York Castle, p. 82, note. 

U 2 


were accused of this crime. The first was blamed for being a 
diviner by lots, and in particular of telling disengaged women 
desirous of being married that she had the power of causing 
them to obtain those on whom their affections were set. She had 
to clear herself by twelve hands of honest women, i.e. six people, 
her neighbours, who became security for her. Isabella for 
a similar cause was cleared by four hands. In October, 1450, 
Agnes Bowmer, late of Witton, was summoned for forecasting the 
future by lot. She as well as the others denied the allegations.* 
23 March, 1451-2, Joh. Davison and Alicia Davison were 
summoned, and Alicia the mother compeared. It was alleged 
against her that she used divination by lot, which consisted in 
being a mediciner, in what manner is not specified, with lead 
and comb and iron (" utetur arte medical ' cum plumbo et pect ' 
et ferro c ") f- 4 Feb., 1566-67, John Lawson accused of 
defaming Margaret Lawson by calling her " a chermer," his 
reply being that it had been so reported-! In Oct. 20, 1663 
one Nicholas Battersby, of Bowtham, in Yorkshire, exercised 
the art of a wise man, having had " skill in the discoveringe of 
those persons that had stolne moneyes ; and where the monyes 
might bee found."§ 

Feb. 3, 1664-5, at Newcastle-on-Tyne, before Sir Francis 
Liddle, knight, mayor, Mrs. Pepper, midwife, was cited for 
using charms to remedy the afflicted. One Robert Pyle, pitman, 
was affected with fits, one of which lasted " the space of one 
houre and a halfe," and he was " most strangely handled." 
" And the said Mrs. Pepper did take water and throwed itt upon 
his face, and touke this informer's child, and another sucking 

* Depositions, fyc.,from York Castle, p. 29. 
t Ibid., p. 33. 
j Ibid., p. 84. 
§ Ibid., p. 101. 


child, and laid them to his mouth. And shee demanding the 
reason why she did soe, she replyed, that the breath of the 
children would suck the evill spirritt out of him, for he was 
possessed with an evill spirritt ; and she said she would prove itt 
either before mayor or ministers that he was bewitched." 
Another female witness did see this Mrs. Pepper " call for a 
bottle of holy water, and tooke the same, and sprinkled itt upon 
a redd hott spot which was upon the back of his right hand ; and 
did take a silver crucifix out of her breast, and laid itt upon the 
said spott. And did then say that shee knew by the said spott 
what his disease was, and did take the said crucifix and putt itt 
in his mouth." * 

A still older example of charming by applying living animals 
to the mouth, in order to re-animate the sinking frame of the 
patient with fresh life, is recorded as happening at Wooler, on 
July 23rd, 1604, when the Vicar-General of the Bishop of 
Durham proceeded against Katherine Thompson and Anne 
Nevelson of Wooler, " pretended to be common charmers of 
sick folkes and their goodes, and that they use to bring white 
ducks or drakes, and to sett the bill thereof to the mouth of the 
sick person, and mumble upp their charmes in such a strange 
manner as is damnible and horrible/' f 

The disease called the thrush in the interior of the mouth 
prevents infants from imbibing their food. Aubrey gives a 
singular case, akin to the above, which he appears to have had 
from " an experienced midwife." " Take a living frog, and 
hold it in a cloth, that it does not go down into the child's 
mouth, till it is dead ; and then take another frog and do the 

* Depositions, fyc.,from York Castle, p. 127. 
t Visit. Book, Register Office, Durham; quoted also in Depositions, 
4c, from York disllc, p. 127, note. 


same."* This distemper is actually called in North Northum- 
berland " the frog in the mouth." 

Feb. 16, 1653-4, John Tatterson of Gargreave, Yorkshire, 
" being disabled in body " and depressed in mind, " troubled with 
ill spiretts, who would have advised him to worshippt the enemye" 
has recourse to Ann Greene, a wise woman or mediciner, who 
cured him, for which he ought to have been grateful, but 
instead thereof becomes her accuser. " This informant went to 
the said Ann, tellinge her that hee was perswaded that she 
could helpe him, beeinge pained in his eare. The which disease 
shee told him that blacke wool was good for itt,f but he said 
that that was not the matter. Whereuppon she loosed the 
garter from her legg, and crossed his left eare 3 times there- 
with, and gott some heire outt of his necke, without his consent. 

* Aubrey's Miscellanies, p. 144. 

j " For Ulceration of the Bars. Take the seed of the ash, other- 
wise called the ashen keys, and boil briskly in the water of the sick 
man ; foment the ear therewith and put some therein on black ioooI. 
By God's help it will cure it." — The Physicians of Myddvai, p. 327. 
" For Noise in the Head, preventing Hearing. Take a clove of 
garlic, prick in three or four places in the middle, dip in honey, and 
insert in the ear, covering it with some black wool," &c. — Ibid., p. 338. 
Black wool is an ingredient in the charm, " which was made by the 
Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and shown to the three brethren, 
asking them where they went : we go said they to the ount of 
Olives, to gather herbs to heal wounds and contusions." &c. — 
Ibid,, p. 455. " New shorn wool, especially that of the neck of a black 
sheep, is good against wounds in the beginning, stroaks, desgramma- 
tions, bruises, and broaken bones, being soaked in vinegar, oile or 
wine, and is used in embrocations.'" — Lovell's Panzoologicomiiwalogia, 
p. 113, Oxford, 1661. This appears to be from Pliny and Dioscorides, 
but I do not find in either author mention of the wool of a black sheep. 
Among the Romans the victims offered to the infernal gods were 


And he askeinge her what she would doe therewith, she tould 
him what matter was that to him, she would use it att her 
pleasure; goe his waye home and care nott. But, goeinge 
home, hee was more pained than beefore, and returneinge to her 
he told her to looke to itt or hee would looke to her. "Where 
uppon she crost his eare three times againe, and promised hee 
should mend. And, accordingely, hee did, some corruptible 
matter runinge outt of his eare as itt did amend." 

In her own defence she said, " that she sometimes useth a 
charme for cureing the heart each (ache), and used itt twice in 
one night unto John Tatterson of Gargreave, by crosseinge a 
garter over his eare and sayeinge these words, ' Boate, a God's 
namef 9 times over. Likewise for paines in the head, she 
requires their water and a locke of their heire, the which she 
boyles together, and afterwards throwes them in the fire and 
burnes them ; and meddles nott with any other diseases." 

Some of the pretensions of those impostors called wisemen 
are contained in the depositions, Jan. 19, 1673-4, before Robert 
Roddam, mayor of Newcastle, against Peter Banks, who 
cunningly took advantage of the popular credulity in a variety 
of ways, most likely to succeed, as being in consonance with the 
ideas of that age. Jane, wife of Cuthbert Burrell, shipwright, 
deposed that he persuaded people that he could let leases to 
people for a term of years and life, thereby insuring their lives 
for that period. " Whereupon divers seamen repair to him and 
putt trust in his conjurations, and pay him 20s. a pcice for 
such leases." A year and a half previously he tried to impose 
upon her husband, who was accustomed to take sea voyages, by 
thrusting one of these fictitious leases into his hands. The wile 
having discovered the fraud " was mighty angry and much 
greived." The contents were these: " I charge you and all of 
you, in the high sword name, to assist and blesse (Aith. Burrell, 
belonging to — (such a ship) — from all rocks and sands, storms 


and tempests thereunto belonging, for this yeare." This she 
indignantly thrust into the fire, on which account Banks 
" threatened he would plague" her, "that she should never be 
worth a groat," and he continued to molest her by his " strange 
stratagems." " The said Peter Banks hath often confessed to 
her and others that he used inchantments, conjuracions, and 
magick arts ; and, in perticuler, in conjureing evil and 
malicious spiritts ; and, espetially, about a young woman that 
lived in Gateshead, whose name she knows not, who came to 
him when the informer was present, and discovered about her 
being molested with a spirit and the like. Whereupon lie 
looked iu his books, and writt something out of the same into a 
paper and delivered it to that young woman. And told her 
that when the spirit appeared lett her open that paper, and she 
would be noe more molested. And afterwards, as Banks con- 
fessed, the same woman came back again, and gave him thanks 
and payment." He " made his cracks and boasts," " that he 
medicined and conjured an evill spirit that Thomas Newton's 
daughter was troubled with, and in the night time he burnt 
peices of paper in the fire written on for that end, and a certaine 
number in the night, at a certaine time, and used words that he 
had mastered the spirits. He likewise said that he could com- 
pell people that had iil husbands to be good to their wifes. And 
he did nominate one Jane Crossley, to whom he had letten a 
lease for that end, and had got 10s. and two new shirts for his 
pains ; and that the same lease endured for a yeare, and, during 
that time, her husband was loveing and kind ; but the yeare 
expireing, and she not renewing her lease, her said husband 
was ill and untoward againe. And he also declared that he 
could take away a man's life a yeare before his appointed time, 
or make him live a yeare longer." Ellinor Patteson, alias 
Phillips, alleged that contention having arisen between her and 
Banks, " she often in the night time was terrified with visions 


and apparitions; and in such a manner as she thought the said 
Banks was standing up in flames of fire, and could never be 
att rest and quietnesse till she made agreement with him." 
Banks persuaded her that " she was wronged and bewitched 
and he could cure her. Therefore by his perswasions she per- 
mitted him to eutt a litle haire out of the back side of her neck 
in order to medicine and cure her. After which he putt tho 
haire into a paper, and having sealed it upp, gave it again to 
the informer, and bidd her burne it. After which she amended 
and grew better." * 

In an accusation of witchcraft, April 12, 1673, Mark Humble, 
of Healy, saith " that his mother, Margaret Humble, then lyeing 
not well, Isabell Thompson tooke some of her haire to medicine 
her." f 

The Rev. James Raino remarks that the use of the hair of the 
sick person is derivable from classical antiquity. J 

Thomas Wilson, in his Pitmain Pay, p. 17, has these lines : 

" Aw'vo just been ower wi' somethin' warm, 
Te try to ease the weary cough, 
Which baffles byeth the drugs and charm, 
And threetens oft to tyek him off." 

He adds in a note : " Quackery is not confined to drugs. The 
ignorant are often imposed upon by what designing knaves call 
' charms ; ' and when the former fail recourse is had to the 

Wilson notices another charmer and fortune-teller, who once 
carried on a great traffic near Brampton, and transmitted the 
profession to her daughter, who was still more a proficient. 

* Depositions, tj-c, from York Castle, pp. 204, 205. 

f Ibid., p. -Jnl. 

I Ibid., p. (J 1, liotf. 


Elizabeth or Lizzy Douglas " lived near Brampton, and carried 
on the craft of fortune-telling, recovering things stolen or 
strayed, and restoring cattle that laboured under diseases 
inflicted by witchcraft. She was the oracle of the vicinity for 
many miles round, and sent many a forlorn maiden away with 
a light heart; for, after bamboozling and mystifying the 
inquirer with a variety of questions, so as almost to make her 
say what she wanted to be told, she delighted her with the 
initials of the name of the swain of her choice, not forgetting, 
however, whilst shuffling the cards, to shuffle the money from 
the girl's pocket into her own. She was once applied to for 
assistance in the case of some cattle that were ' dwining away ' 
under the power of witchcraft. She was rather puzzled how to 
act in this matter ; but, after applying her fertile mind to it for 
some time, she came to the conclusion that slitting their tails 
and putting pieces of rowan-tree into the opening would free 
them from the power that was destroying them. This, of 
course, was tried ; but the owners of the cattle declared that 
it had no effect upon the disease, and that they might as well 
have 'laid salt on their tails.' Lizzy, no doubt, often missed 
her mark on these occasions ; but she sometimes made a lucky 
hit, which kept her fame afloat with the dupes that consulted 
her. She has been dead many years ; but her daughter, it is 
said, has succeeded to the business, and inherits the rare quali- 
ties of her far-famed parent." * 

At Wooler, to cure the stye a gold ring is applied nine times 
to the place affected, also the cat's tail if the eye is rubbed 
with it. 

A charm there for a new tooth was to wrap the tooth in a 

* The Pitman's Pay and Other Poems, by Thomas Wilson, p. 85, 


piece of paper along with some salt and cast it into the fire, 
saying : 

" Fire, fire, burn byen, 
Lord, send me my tnith agyen." 

This is customary among children in the south of Scotland, the 

saying being : 

" Fire, fire, burn bane, 
And send me my tooth again." 

To obtain a clock at a raffle, sit crossed-leg and you will be 
sure to get it. 

Anne Baites and Others ; for Witchcraft. 

"April 2, 1673. Before Humphrey Mitford, Esq. Ann 
Armstrong, of Birchen-nooke, spinster, saith, that Ann, wife 
of Thomas Baites, of Morpeth, tanner, hath beene severall 
times in the company of the rest of the witches, both att 
Barwick, Barrasford, and at Ridingbridg-end, and once att 
the house of Mr. Francis Pye, in Morpeth, in the seller there* 
The said Ann Baites hath severall times danced with the dived 
att the places aforesaid, calling him, sometimes, her protector, 
and, other sometimes, her blessed saviour. He hath seen the 
said Ann Baites severall times att the places aforesaid rideing 
upon wooden dishes and egg-shells, both in the rideinge house 
and in the close adjoyninge. She further saith that the said 
Ann hath been severall times in the shape of a catt and a hare, 
and in the shape of a greyhound and a bee, letting the divcll 
see how many shapes she could turn herself into. 

" April 4. Before Sir Richard Stote. The same witness 
saith, that since she gave information against severall persons 
who ridd her to severall places where they had conversation 
with the divell, she hath] beene severall times lately ridden by 
Anne Driden and Anne Forster, and was last night ridden by 
them to the rideing house in the close on the common, where 


the said Anne Forster, Anne Driden, Lucy Thompson, John 
Crauforth, Wm. Wright, Elizabeth Pickering, Anne Usher, 
Michaell Aynesley, and Margaret his wife, and one Margarett, 
whose surname she knowes not, but she said to the protector 
she came from Corbridge, and thre more, whose names she 
knowes not, were all present with their protector, and had all 
sorts of meates and drinkes they named, siltt * upon the table 
by pulling a rope, and they tooke the bridle of this informant, 
and made her singe to them whilst they danced ; and all of 
them who had donne harme gave an account thereof to their pro- 
tector, who made most of them that did most harme, and beate 
those who had donne no harme. And Mary Hunter said she had 
killed George Taylor's filly, and had power over his mare, and , 
that she had power of the farre hinder leg of Johne Marche. 

" Feb. 5, 1 672-3. Newcastle-on-Tyne, before Ealph Jenison. 
Anne Armstrong, of Birks-nooke, saith, that, being servant to 
one Ma'ble Fouler of Burtree House, in August last, her dame 
sent her to seeke eggs of one Anne Foster, of Stocksfield ; but 
as they could not agree for the price, the said Anne desired 
her to sitt downe and looke her head, which ' accordingly ' she 
did. And then the said Anne lookt this informant's head. 
And, when they had done, she went home. And, about three 
days after, seekeing the cowes in the pasture, a little after day- 
breake, she mett, as she thought, an old man with ragg'd 
cloaths, who askt this informant where she was on the Friday 
last. She tould him she was seekeing eggs at Stocksfield. So he 
tould her that the same woman that lookt her head should be 
the first that made a horse of her spin-it, and who should be 
the next that would ride her ; and into what shape and like- 
nesses she should be changed, if she would turne to there God. 

* Sile, Northumbrian, is to percolate, to flow ; also, to strain, to 
purify milk through a straining dish.— Brockett's North Country 


And with all tould this informer how they would use all meanes 
they could to allure her : first, by there tricks, by rideing in the 
house in empty wood dishes that had never beene wett, and 
also in egg shells, and how to obtaine whatever they desired bv 
swinging in a rope ; and with severall dishes of meate and 
drinke. But, if she eate not of their meate, they could not 
harme her. And, at last, tould her how it should be divulged by 
eateing a piece of cheese, which should be laid by her when 
she laie downe in a field, with her apron cast over her head, 
and so left her. But after he was gone she fell suddainely 
downe dead and continued dead till towards six that morneing. 
And, when she arose, went home, but kept all these things secrett. 
And since that time, for the most parte every day, and some- 
times two or three times in the day, she has taken of these fitts, 
and continued as dead often from evening till cockcrow. And 
whilst she was lying in that condition, which happened one 
night a little before Christmas, about the change of the moone, 
this informant see the said Anne Forster come with a bridle, 
and bridled her and ridd upon her crosse-legged, till they 
came to (the) rest of her companions at Rideing Millne bridg- 
end, where they usually mett. And when she light of her 
back, pull'd the bridle of this informer's head, now in the like- 
nesse of a horse ; but, when the bridle was taken of, she stood 
up in her own shape, and then she see the said Anne Forster, 
Anne Dryden, of Prudhoe, and Luce Thompson, of Mickley, 
and tenne more unknowno to her, a long black man rideing on 
a bay galloway, as she thought, which they called there pro- 
tector. And when they had bankt theire horses, they stood all 
upon a bare spott of ground, and bad this informer sing whilst 
they danced in severall shapes, first of a hare, then in their 
owne, and then in a catt, sometimes in a mouse, and in severall 
other shapes. And when they had done, bridled this informer, 
and the rest of the horses, and rid home with their protector 


first. And for six or seaven nights together they did the same. 
And the last night this informer was with them they mett all 
at a house called the Rideing house, where she saw Forster, 
Dryden, and Thompson, and the rest, and theire protector, 
which they call'd their god, sitting at the head of the table in 
a gold chaire, as she thought ; and a rope hanging over the 
roome, which every one touch'd three several times, and what- 
ever was desired was sett upon the table, of several kindes of 
meate and drinke ; and when they had eaten, she that was last 
drew the table, and kept the reversions. This was their custome 
which they usually did. But when this informer used nieanes 
to avoyd theire company they came in their owne shapes, and 
threatned her, if she would not turne to theire god, the last 
shift should be the worst. And from that time they have not 
troubled her. But further saith that, on St. John day last, 
being in the field, seeking sheep, she sitt downe, being weary, 
and cast her apron over her head. And when she got upp she 
found a piece cheese lying at her head ; which she tooke up and 
brought home, and did eate of it, and since that time hath dis- 
closed all which she formerly kept secrett. 

" Apr. 9, 1 673. At the Sessions at Morpeth, before Sir 
Thomas Horsley and Sir Richard Stote, knights, James Howard, 
Humphrey Mitford, Ralph Jenison, and John Salkeld, Esqrs. 

" Anne Armstrong, of Birks-nuke, spinster, saith, that the 
information she hath already given is truth. She now further 
saith that Lucy Thompson, of Mickley, widdow, upon Thursday 
in the evening, being the 3rd of Aprill, att the house of John 
Newton off the Riding, swinging upon a rope which went 
crosse the balkes, she, the said Lucy, wished that a boyl'd capon 
with silver scrues might come down to her and the rest, which 
were five coveys consisting of thirteen person in every covey ; 
and that the said Lucy did swing twice, and then the said capon 
with silver scrues did, as she thinketh, come downe, which 


capon the said Lucy sett before the rest of the company, whereof 
the divell, which they called their protector, and sometimes their 
blessed saviour, was their cheif, sitting in a chair like unto 
bright gold. And the said Lucy further did swing, and 
demanded the plum-broth which the capon was boyled in, and 
thereupon it did immediately come down in a dish, and likewise 
a botle of wine which came down upon the first swing. 

" She further 6aith that Ann, the wife of Richard Forster off 
Stocksfeild, did swing upon the rope, and, upon the first swing, 
she gott a cheese, and upon the second she got a beakment * 
of wheat flower, and upon the third swing she gott about halfe a 
quarter of butter to knead the said flower withall, they haveing 
noe power to gett water. 

" She further saith that Margret, the wife of Michaell Aynsley 
of Hiding did swing, and she gott a flackett t of ale containing, 
as she thought, about three quarts, a kening % of wheat flowers 
for pyes, and a peice of beife. 

" She further saith that every person had their swings in the 
said rope, and did gett several dishes of provision upon their 
severall swings according as they did desire ; which this in- 
formant cannot repeat or remember, there beinge soe many 
persons and such variety of meat ; and those that come last att 
the said meeting did carry away the remainder of the meat. 

" And she further saith that she particularly knew at the said 
meeting one Michael Aynsly of the Rideing, Mary Hunter of 
Birkenside, widdow, Dorothy Green of Edmondsbyers in the 
county of Durham, widdow, Anne Usher of Fairlymay, widdow, 
Eliz. Pickering of Whittingeslaw, widdow, Jane wife of Wm. 
Makepeace of New Ridley, yeo., Anthony Hunter of Birken- 

* Beatmont, a measure containing about a quarter of a peck, 
f Flackett, a flask or wood-bottle. 
J Kening, half a bushel. 


side, yeo., John Whitfield of Edmondbyers, Anne Whitfield of 
the same, spinster, Chr. Dixon of Mugleswqrth Park and Alice 
his wife, Catherine Eliot of Ebchester, Elsabeth Atehinson of 
Ebchester widdow, and Issabell Andrew of Crooked-oake, 
widdow, with many others, both in Morpeth and other places, 
whose faces this informer knowes but eannot tell their names. 
All which persons had their severall meetings at diverse other 
places at other times : viz., upon Collup Monday last, being the 
tenth of February, the said persons met at Allensford, where 
this informant was ridden upon by an inchanted bridle by 
Michael Aynsly and Margaret his wife ; which inchanted bridle, 
when they tooke it of from her head, she stood upp in her owne 
proper person, and see all the said persons beforemencioned 
danceing, some in the likenesse of hares, some in the likenesse 
of catts, others in the likenesse of bees, and some in their owne 
likenesse, and made this informant sing till they danced, and 
every thirteen of them had a divell with them in sundry shapes 
And at the said meeting their particular divell tooke them that 
did most evill, and danced with them first, and called every of 
them to an account, and those that did most evill he maid 
most of. 

" And this informant saith that she can very well remember 
the particular confessions that the severall persons hereunder 
named made to the devill then and there, as well as at other 
times : and first Lucy Thompson of Mickly confessed to the 
divell that she had wronged Edward Lumiy of Mickly goods by 
witcheing them; and in particular one horse by pincing to 
death, and one ox which suddainly dyed in the draught, and the 
devill incouraged her for it. 

" Ann Drydon of Pruddoe confessed to the devill that, on the 
Thursday night after Fasten's even last, when they were drink- 
ing wine in Franck Pye's seller in Morpeth, that shee witched 
suddenly to death her neighbor's horse in Pruddoe. 


" Anne wife of Richard Forster of Stoeksficld confessed that 
sho bewitched Robert Newton's horses of Stocksfield, and that 
there was one of them that had but one shew on, which she 
took and presented with the foot and all to the divell at next 
meeting. And she further confessed to her protector that she 
had power of a ehilde of the said Robert Newton's called 
Issabell, ever since she was four yeare olde, and she is now 
about eight yeares old, and she is now pined to nothing, and 
continues soo. 

" Moreover Michael Ainsly and Anne Drydon confessed to the 
divell that they had power of Mr. Thomas Errington's horse, of 
Kideing mill, and they ridd behinde his man upon the said 
horse from Newcastle like two bees, and the horse immediately 
after he came home, dyed ; and this was but about a moneth 

" The said Anne Forster, Michaell Ainsly, and Lucy Thompson 
confessed to the divell, and the said Michaell told the divell 
that he called 3 severall times at Mr. Errington's kitchen 
dore, and made a noise like an host of men. And that night, 
tho divell asking them how they sped, they answered nothing, 
for they had not got power of tho miller, but they got the shirt 
of his bak, as he was lyeing betwixt women, and laid it under 
his head and stroke him dead another time, in revenge he was 
an instrument to save Raiph Elrington's draught from goeing 
downo the water and drowneing, as they intended to have done. 
And that they confessed to tho divell that they made all tho goer 
goo of tho mill, and that they intended to have made the stones 
all grindo till thoy had flowne all in peeces. 

" Mary Hunter confessed to the divill that she had wronged 
George Tayler of Edgebrigg's goods, and told her protector that 
sho had gotten the power of a fole of his soe that it pined away 
to death. And she had gott power of the dam of the said fole, 
and that thoy had an intention, the last Thursday at night, to 

vol. n. x 


have taken away the power of the limbs of the said mare. About 
Michaelmas last she did come to one John Marsh, of Edgebrigg, 
when he and his wife was rideing from Bywell, and flew some- 
times under his mare's belly and sometimes before its breast, in 
the likenesse of a swallow, untill she got the power of it, and it 
dyed within a week after. And she and Dorothy Green con- 
fessed to the divill that they got power of the said John Marshe's 
oxo's far hinder legg. And this is all within the space of a year 
halfe or thereabouts. 

"Ann Usher, of Fairly May, confessed to the divell that by his 
help she was a medciner, and that she had within a little space 
done £100 hurt to one George Stobbart, of New Ridlv, in his 
goods. And that she and Jane Makepeace, of New Ridly, had 
trailed a horse of the said Geo. doune a great scarr, and that 
they have now power of a greye of the said Geo., which now 
pines away. 

" Elizabeth Pickering, of Whittingstall, widdow, confessed, 
that she had power of a neighbor's beasts of her owne in 
Whittingstall, and that she had killed a child of the said 

"And this informer saith that all the said persons were 
frequently at the meetings and rideings with the divill, and 
craved his assistance, and consulted with him about all the 
aforesaid accions. 

"She further saith that Jane Hopper of the Hill confessed to 
the divill that she had power over Wm. Swinburne, of New- 
feild, for near the space of two yeares last past, by which is 
sore pined, and she hopes to have his life. And Anthony 
Hunter, of Birkenside, confessed he had power over Anne, wife 
of Thomas Richardson, of Crooked Oak ; that he tooke away the 
power of her limbs, and askt the divill's assistance to take away 
her life. And Jane Makepeace was at all the meetings among 
the witches, and helped to destroy the goods of George 


" Anrl this informer deposeth that Ann Drydon had a lease for 
fifty ycarcs of the divill, wliereof ten ar expired. Ann Forster 
had a lease of her life for 47 yeares, whereof seaven are yet to 
come. Lucy Thompson had a lease of two and forty, whereof 
two are yet to come, and, her lease being near out, they would 
have persuaded this informer to have taken a lease of thro 
score yeares or upwards, and that she should never want gold 
or mony, or, if sho had but one cow, they should let her 
know a way to get as much milk as them that had tenn. 

" And further this informer cannot as yet well remember." 

" Apr. 21, 1673. The said witness, Anne Armstrong, deposes 
further before Ralph Jonison, Esq. 

" On Monday last, at night, she, being in her father's house, 
see one Jane Baites, of Corbridge, come in the forme of a gray 
catt with a bridle hanging on her foote, and breathed upon her 
and struck her dead, and bridled her and rid upon her in the 
name of the devill southward, but the name of the place she 
docs not now remember. And after the said Jane allighted and 
pulld tho bridlo of her head, and she and the rest had drawno 
thoir conipasse nigh to a bridg end, and the devil placed a stone 
in the middle of the compasse, they sett themselves downo, and 
bending towards the stone, repeated tho Lord's prayer back- 
wards. And when they had done the devill, in tho forme of a 
littlo black man and black cloaths, calld of one Isabell Thomp- 
son, of Slealy, widdow, by name, and required of her what 
service she had done him. Sho roplyd she had gott power of 
the body of one Margarett Teasdalo. And after he had danced 
with her ho dismissed her, and call'd of one Thomasine, wife of 
Edward Watson, of Slealy, who confessed to the devill that she 
had likewise power of tho body of the said Margaret Teasdale, 
and would keepe power of her till she gott her lifo. 

" At sevcrall of their meetings she has seeno Michall Aynsley 
and Margaret his wife, now prisoners in his Ma tlca goale, and 

x 2 


Jane Baites, of Corbridge, ride upon one James Anderson, of 
Corbridge, chapman, to their meetings, and hankt him to a 
stobb, whilst they were at their sports, and when they had done, 
ridd upon him homeward. 

" May 12. She further saith that on the second day of May 
laste, &t night, the witches carried her to Berwicke bridge end, 
where she see a greate number of them, and amongste the reste 
she see one Ann Parteis, of Hollisfeild, and heard her declare 
to the devill that she did enter into the house of one John 
Maughan, of the pareshe of Haydon, and found his wife's rocke 
lyinge upon the table. And she tooke up the rocke to spinne of 
it, and by spinneinge of the rocke she had gotten the power of 
the said Anne that she should never spinne more, and would 
still torment her till she had her life. 

" May 14. She being brought into Allandaile by the parish- 
iners, for the discovery of witches, Isabell Johnson, being under 
suspition, was brought before her, and she breathing uppon the 
said Anne immediately the said Anne did fall downe in a sound 
and laid three quarters of an houre, and after her recovery she 
said if there were any witches in England Isabell Johnson was 

" At Morpeth Sessions as aforesaid Robert Johnson, of Eydeing 
Mill, saith that about the latter end of August last, late at night, 
lyeing in his bed at Rydeing Mill, betwixt two of his fellow- 
servants, he herd a man, as he thought, call at the dore and ask 
whoe was within. Upon which this informant rose and went 
and layd his head against the chamber window to know whoe 
it was that called, and he heard a great noise of horse feet, as 
though it had been an army of men. Whereupon he called, but 
none would answer. Soe he returned to his bed, and the next 
morneinge, riseing out of his bed, he wanted his shirt, which 
seeking after he accused his two fellow-servants, which were 
amazed at the thing and denyed that ever they knew of it, 


which tliis informant further searching after, found it lapt upp 
under his pillow at Ids bed head. He further saith, that Mr. 
Errington's draught, and Ra. Elrington's, being away at 
Stiford leading tyth corne there, and being late in comeing home, 
this informer could not rest satisfied, but went to seek the 
draughts and to know what was become of them, and met them 
comeing out of Stiford towne end, and came homeward with 
thorn, till they came to tho water. And Mr. Errington's draught 
being got through he herd the people with the other draught 
cry that they were goeing downe the water. And then he got 
on to a horse and rode downe after them some 3 score yards or 
thereabouts, where ho came to them just at the entring into a 
great deep pool, where, if he had not made great help, they 
might have been lost, both men and beasts. And getting them 
turned and brought upp to tho other draught they came all 
home together, and this informant haveing loosed tho beasts out 
of lu3 maister's draught and goeing to bed, was that night sud- 
dainly strucken dead in tlio kitchen to the sight of his fellow- 
servant. Ho further saith that, about some sixteen dayes before 
Christmas last, he could not by any means ho could use gett tho 
mill sett, and about the hinder end of Christmas hollidayes, 
being sheeling somo oatcs about two hours before the sunn- 
sotting, all the gecr, viz 1 , hopper and hoops, and all other things 
but the stones, flew down and were casten of, and he himselfo 
almost killed with them, they comeing against him with such 
force and violence. 

" He further saith that, about a moneth since, one Win. 
Olliver, his fellow-servant, went to Newcastle in the morneing 
and rodo upon a gray gelding of his master's, which, to all 
their sights, was as well and as good like as any horse could 
beo. And his fellow-servant sayed that he came as well homo 
and rode as heartily ass any horse could doo. Ana after he is 
cuino home this informant went to (he dure ami tho hoi><; 


by the bridle and led him into the stable where he usualley 
stood. And there haveing him in his hand by the bridle reen, 
and haveing not gott him fastened nor out of his hand, till 
suddainly the horse rushed downe, he being not hott at all with 
rideing ; and soe continued a good while, sometimes lookeing 
very cheerily about him, and other sometimes striveing, as it 
were for life and death, soe that this informer was forced to 
goe to bed and leave him, and in the morneing when he came to 
the stable again he found him lyeing dead, and takeing him out 
of the stable they rippt him upp to see what might be the cause, 
and could finde nothing, but that the horse was all right enough 
in his body. 

"John March, of Edgebrigg, yeoman, saith, that, about a month 
since, he went to a place called Birkside nook, and there Ann 
Armstrong heareing him named began to speak to him and asltt 
him if he had not an ox that had the power of one of his limbs 
taken from him. And he telling her he had, and inquireing 
how she came to know, she told him that she heard Mary 
Hunter, of Birkside, and another, at a meeting amongst diverse 
witches, confesse to the divell that they had taken the power of 
that beast ; and she not knowing her name Sir James Claverjng 
and Sir Richard Stote thought proper to carry her to Eden- 
byers, and there to cause the woman to come to her ther, to 
the intent she might challenge her. And she challenged one 
Dorothy Green, a wicldow, and she said she was the person 
that joyned with Mary Hunter in the bewithcheing of the said 
ox. And the ox now continues lame and has noe use of his farr 
hinder legg, but pines away, and likely to dye. He saith that 
Ann Armstrong told him that the said persons confessed before 
the devill that they bewitched a gray mare of his, and he saith 
that about a fortnight before Michaelmas last, he and his wife 
were rideing homo from Bywell on a Sunday at night upon the 
same mare, about sun-sett ; and there came a swallow, which 


above forty times and more flew through under the mare's belly, 
and crossed her way before her brest. And this informant 
slrook at it with his rod above twenty times and could by no 
ineancs hinder it, untill of its owne accord it went away. And 
the mare went very well home, and within four dayes dyed ; 
and, before she dead, was two dayes soe mad that she was past 
holding, and was strucke bliude for four-and-twenty houres 
before she dead. 

" He further saith, that the said Mary Hunter came downc to 
his house on Monday last, where lie had Anil Armstrong, and 
she askt her what she had to say to her. And she told her that 
she was a witch, and that she had seen her at the devil Pa 
meetinges. The other askt her where, and she answered, " In 
this same house, last night, being Sunday, amongst all the 
companye." And the said informer saith, that that very night 
when she said they mett, he was was soe sore affrighted that 
ho was in a manner dead ; and afterward comeing to himselfe 
againo he herd a great thundering and saw a great lighteningc 
in the house, and to the number of twenty creatures in the 
resemblances of catts, and other shapes, lyeing on the floores 
and creeping upon the walls. And immediately after I herd 
the girll singing to them. And his servants, being in bed with 
the young woman, awakened, and came downe out of the roomc 
where the girll lay and said, " Alas ! the witches were gone 
with the girll." And he went upp and found her body lyeing 
in the bed, as she were dead, neither breath nor life being 
discerned in her ; and continued soe for the most part of an 
hour till he fetched in two or three of his neighbors to see her 
in that condition. And presently after they came in she began 
to stir and open her eyes and lokod on them for about an hour 
before she spake anything. And when she spoke she said that 
all the companyes wore there, and were endeavouringe to get 
her away, but wero prevented. And further ho saith, the said 


Ann Armstrong enquired of the said Mary Hunter for her sonn 
Anton, and there being one of her sons called Cuthbert, wee 
told her that he was the man she askt for, which she denyed, 
and said that it was not the man, for she knew him very well 
and had seen him severall tymes at their meetings; and desired 
her to send him downe, and a lass that she, the said Mary, 
severall times ride upon and singe unto them, and she would 
resolve her whether it were they or not. Thereupon Anton 
afterwards came downe and questioned her what she had to say 
to him. She said she would lett him know at the sessions, 
hearing he was to be there ; and because he had threatened her 
she would say noe more, but told this informer, after he was 
gone, that Anton had confessed before the devill lie had taken 
the power of Anne, wife of Tho. Eichardson of Crooked Oaks' 
limbs from her, and had likewise bewitched several cattle to 
death. And further saith, that he knowes that the said Ann 
Richardson is in a very bad condicion, being sometimes able to 
goe, and other times that she cannot goe without help. He 
never see the said Ann in his life before, neither, to his know- 
ledge, was she ever where he was, ribr never sawe none of his 
beasts, but told him all this when he went to see her. 

" Geo. Tayler, of Edgebridge, yeoman, saith, that coming to 
Birkside nook to speak with'one Ann Armstrong, whoe had 
oftentimes formerly desired to have seen him, and she being 
asleep upon a bed, her sister awakened her and raised her, and 
being asked if she knew him or could name him, she answered 
that if he were the man that had a fole lately dead, and if he 
lived at Edgebrigg, his name was Geo. Tayler. Upon his 
demanding on her how she came to know it, she told him that 
she herd Mary Hunter of Brkenside, widdow, confesse it before 
tho divell at meetingo they had that she had gotten the power 
and tho life of his folo. Tho said fole began not to be well 
ahuut Michueliuas last, and dyed about a nioneih since, and it 


had noc natural! disease to his knowledge, but often swelled in 
sevcrall parts of the body of it; and its head and lipps would 
have been sore swelld, and letten him have endeavoured never 
soo often to blood it, thinking thereby to prevent its death, ho 
could never get any in noe part of the body of it. And when it 
was dead, he opened it to see if there w r ere any blood or not, 
and lie saith that ho thinks, very, a quart pott would have holden 
all that it had and more, and that litle that it had was all drawnc 
about the heart thereof. 

" He saith that Ann Armestronj; told him that she heard when 
the said Mary Hunter and Dorothy Green, of Edmondbyers, 
eonfesse to the devill that they had the power of his oxen and 
kyne, horses and mares, and that now, at this present, he has 
a grey mare, the dam of the said fole, pineing away, and in 
the same condition that tho folo was in. And he thinks that all 
his goods doo not thrive, nor are like his neighbours goods, 
notwithstanding he feeds them as well as he can, but are like 

" Apr. 21, 1673. Marke Humble, of Slealy, tayler, saith, 
that ho, betwixt 7 and 8 yeares agoc, walking towards tho 
high ond of Slealy, mett one Isabell Thompson walking down- 
ward. And when she was gone past him, she being formerly 
suspected of witchcraft, he lookt back over his shoulder and did 
sco tho said Isablo hould up her hands towards his back. And 
when he came home he grew very sick, and tould the people in 
the house that ho was afraid Isabell Thompson had done him 
wrong. And for some 3 or 4 yeares continued very ill by 
fitts in a most violent manner, to tho sight and admiration of 
nil his neighbours. And whilst he continued in this distemper, 
the s:iid Isabell enmo to his house and said it was reported she 
had bewitched him. She tould him if it were so it would 
soono be kiiownc. And further saith, that his mother Margaret 
Humble then lvcing not well, Isabell Thompson tooke noun: of 


her haire to medicine her." Depositions, fyc, from York Castle, 
pp. 191—201. 

All the accused persons denied their guilt, but the result of 
the affair is not known. 

Two volumes issued by the Surtees Society, Depositions 
and other Ecclesiastical Proceedings from the Courts of Durham, 
extending from 1311 to the. Reign of Elizabeth "(1845), and 
Depositions from the Castle of York, relating to Offences com- 
mitted in the Northern Counties in the Seventeenth Century (1861), 
contain a large assemblage of witchcraft cases from the Northern 
English Counties, to which only a limited reference can be made, 
for the more salient features. The first case on record is that 
of Margaret Lyndyssay along with another woman, in the parish 
of Bdlyngeham, Northumberland, who — 1 Feb. 1435 — cleared 
herself of the imputation of being an enchantress, whereof she 
had been blamed by John de Longcaster, John Somerson, and 
John Symson.* 16 Feb. 1447-8, Mariot Jacson, accused of 
the same crime, was, on the favourable testimony of her neigh- 
bours, restored to her pristine good credit | About 1569 one 
Margaret Reed, apparently of Newcastle, had been misrepre- 
sented as being a "water wych."f 17th May, 1572, at 
Stockton, two foolish women revile each other, and one of them, 
Elizabeth Anderson, called her neighbour, Annie Barden, 
" crowket haudyd wytch," the accusation being aggravated by 
the words being shouted out " audiently," where " might 
many have herd them, beinge spoken so neigh the crosse and 
in the toune gait as they were. JJ § 18 Jan. 1574, Margaret 
Shafto, of Throkele}'-, Northd., bears testimony that. Janet 
Wilkinson did call Katherine Anderson " hange lipped witche;" 
and another witness from the same place " did heare the said 

* Depositions, p. 27. f P. 20. 

t P. 91- § P. 247. 


Janet Wilkinson call Katheryne Anderson ' darted witche,' 
and that ' sho had comen of Hedden-on-the-Wall for his good 
deedes doinge.' * 15 July, 1586, a case of chicling deposed on, 
which took place at Blaidon, parish of Ryton, between Arthur 
Bell and John Robson, wherein the cause of offence was that 
Robson said to Bell, " Thou haist a witch to thy eld-mother, 
and why cannot the young theef learne at the old ? " this " eld- 
mother " being Isabell Chamber, Bell's wife's mother.t 

These instances of defamation give place in the succeeding 
contury to full-framed articles of accusation. December 31, 
1646, Elizabeth Crossley and others, of Hep ten Hall, in York- 
shire, are accused of maliciously, on being refused alms, causing 
young children to take convulsions, whereof they died, a stroke 
with a candlestick to draw blood from the reputed witch having 
proved ineffectual, although temporarily affording relief, to 
counteract Crossley's influence. Her confederate, Mary 
Midgeley, being denied an almes of wool, and obtaining instead 
theroof an alms of milk, from Martha the wife of liichard 
Wood, of Hepten Hall, " shee departed very angry." The 
consequence was that the clay after six of the milch kine fell 
sick. Upon this Mrs. Wood hied away to the woman, and 
confessed her fault in slighting her, " and desired her to 
remedio it if she could. Longe it was before shee would take 
too that shee had done it, but at last tooke six pence of her, and 
wished her to goe homo, for the kyno should mende, and desired 
her to take for every cow a handfull of salte and an old sickle, 
and lay undernoath them, and, if they amended not, then to 
como to her againe." Mary Midgeley confessed that Martha 
Wood came to her to " asko her advise touchingc one of her 
kync whose mylke earned in tho gallin ; " whereupon she told 
her that sho had " learned of ono Issabel Robinson who had 

• P. 813. t P- 3 >8. 


good skill (if anythinge were gone), and shee wished her to 
take a litle salte and old yron, lay it under the cow, and pray 
to God for mend." The others denied the charges, and pro- 
bably nothing came of it* March 18, 1648-9, a girl, daughter 
of Dorothy Rodes of Boiling, is frightened into convulsions by 
conceiving that she is haunted by one Mary Sykes, who had an 
evil repute, as well as by the likeness two other women, one of 
whom had been dead two years previously. Richard Booth, of 
Boiling, had often heard Mary Sykes say to him, " Bless the," 
and " I'le crosse the," and " had much loss by the death of 
his goods." To Henry Cordingley, of Tonge, Mary Sikes had 
said " since Christenmus was twelve monthes, that he had 
nyne or tenn beasts and horses, but she ' wold make them 
fewer,' and 'Bless the,' but Tie cross the.' He further saith 
that, some three dayes before the saide Cristenmas, he goeing 
to fotlier horses, about 12 o'clock in the night, with a candle 
and lanthorn, his beasts standing neare his horses, he sawe the 
said Mary Sikes riding upon the backe of one of his cowes. 
And he, endeavouring to strike att her, stumbled, and soe the 
saide Mary flewo out of his mistall windowe, haveing three or 
fower wooden stanchions, the saide cowe being then white over 
with an imy sweate. And he likewise saith that he had one 
blacke horse, worth 4£ 16s., begun n to be sickc about Tewsday 
was a fortnight, and contincwed dithering and quakeing till 
Sonday following, and then dj-ed. And he, opening the saide 
horse, could not finde an eggshell full of blood. And he is 
verily porswaded that the saide horse was bewitched. And he 
saith, allsoe, that a blacke mcnre of his hath beene sicke in like 
manner as the former horse was, since about Tewsday last was 
a fortnight, till the tymo that the saide Mary was searched by 
the wcomon ; but, since that, she hath recovered and amended, 

'"* ]>i'i>i:*iliuH$, <Jt , j'ivih Turk Citslh , pp. G-0, 


and eatos her meate verie well." Five women sworn as 
searchers did indeed find " upon her left side neare her arme 
a litle lumpe like a wart, and being pulled out it streteht 
about lialfo an inch. And they further say that tbey never 
sawo the like upon anie other weomen." The jury were 
incredulous, and Mary Sykes was acquitted.* 

10 Jan., 1650-1, Margaret Morton, of Kirkethorpe, was 
accused at Wakefield of giving a little boy of about four years 
old, " then in good health and likeing, a peeee of bread," after 
which the child " begann to bee sicke, and his body swolled very 
much, and his flesh did daly after much waste, till he could 
neither goe nor stand." The mother mistrusting Morton sent 
for her, and she submitted to ask the child forgiveness three 
times, " and then this informant drew bloud of her with a pin, 
and immediately after the child amended." In addition to this 
the informant " at clivers times " " could not get butter when she 
chimed nor cheese whon she earned." Four women searched 
Morton and found two black spots, one whereof " was black on 
both sides, an inch broad, and blew in the middest." Besides 
being long suspected for a witch, her mother and sister, who 
were then both dead, " were suspected to be the like." She was 
tried at the assizes and acquitted. In September, 1650, a woman 
callod Ann Hudson, of Skipsey, in Holderness, was charged 
with witchcraft. The sick person had recovered after he had 
scratched her and drawn blood, f 

Jan. 23, 1651-2, Hester France, in the West Riding of York- 
shire, " a reputed witch for above twenty years," cured a 
servant girl, " and prayed to God that she shold never bake 
again," whereupon she is seized with catalepsy. The reputed 
witch is prevailed on to visit her and submits to be scratched, 
and the symptoms are considerably abated. Another person 

• Ibid., pp. 28-30. f Ibid., p. 38 and note. 


idling for half a year, sends for her — patient woman as she 
W as — " and she being come into the chamber he scratclit her 
very sore, and sayde, ' I think thou art the woman that hath 
done me this wrong,' and then she answred and sayde that she 
never did hurt in her life."* 

March 17, 1652-3. One Elizabeth Lambe is accused by several 
sick people of doing them harm, and like the poor woman in 
the preceding instance she has to submit to various indigni- 
ties for being so notorious. She frightened John Jonson, of 
Reednes, by appearing to him at night, accompanied by an old 
man in brown clothes, whereupon " his goods fell sick, and the 
farrier could not tell what disease they were ill of." When 
others of his neighbours had received loss " in their goods, 
which they did conceive this Eliz. Lambe to be the author 
of, they also did beat her, and was never afterwards dis- 
quieted by her." The constable had a child sick, whereupon 
" his wife meeting the said Eliz. at her owne doore, she did fall 
downe on her knees and asked her forgiveness, and the child 
did soone after recover." Nicholas Baldwin, of Rednes, declared 
that about the year 1648 she drowned him "fhre younge foles 
ever as they were foled, by witchcraft," whereat Baldwin, 
enraged beyond measure, did beat her with his cane, and he 
declared in his evidence, "had it not bene for my wife, because 
she sat doune of hir knesse and aske me forgivenes, I had bet 
her worse." She also cruelly handled one Richard Browne at 
the heart in his sickness by drawing "his heart's blood from 
him." The sick man thought he would get better if he could 
draw blood from her, who had so drained him of life's stream, 
and she being brought to him by a wile, Browne said to her, 
" Bes, thou hast wronged me. Why dost thou soe ? If thou 
wilt doe soe no more I will forgive thee." And she answered 

Ibid., pp. 51, 52. 


nothing. Ho then scratched her till the blood came, but within 
n week after he died."* 

The case of Elizabeth Roberts, Oct. 14, 1654, may be given 
entire. " John Greencliffe, of Beverley, sayth, that on Saturday 
last, about seaven in the evening, Elizabeth Roberts [who was 
the wifo of a joiner at Beverley, and denied any knowledge of 
what was charged against her] did appeare to him in her usuall 
wearing clothes, with a ruff about her neck, and, presently 
vanishing, turned herself into the similitude of a catt, which 
fixed close about his leg, and, after much strugling, vanished ; 
whereupon ho was much pained at his heart. Upon Wednesday 
there seized a catt upon his body, which did strike him on the 
head, upon which he fell into a swound or traunce. After he 
received the blow, ho saw the said Elizabeth escape upon a wall 
in her usuall wearing apparell. Upon Thursday she appeared 
unto him in the likenesso of a bee, which did very much afflict 
him, to witt, in throwing of his body from place to place, not- 
withstanding thcro wero five or six persons to hold him doune." f 
The bee was in his bonnet, no doubt of it. Another cat case is 
reported of date at Newcastle, Nov. 10, 1 GG3, before Sir James 
Clavoring, Bart., mayor, wherein Jane, wife of Wm. Milburne, 
of Newcastle, imagined that " Fryday gone a seaven night, 
about 8 o'clock att night, she being alone and in chamber, 
thero appeared to her something in the perfect similitude and 
shape of a catt. And the said catt did leape at her face, and 
did vocally speake with a very audible voyce, and saidc, that itt 
had gotten the life of one in this house, and camo for this 
informer life, and would have itt before Saturdny night. To 
which she replyod, ' I defye the, the devill and all his works.' 
Upon which the catt did vanish. The second time the cat 
appeared, " the said catt did violently leape aboute her neck and 

• Ibid., p. f>8. t Ibid, p. 67. 


shoulders, and was soe ponderous that she was not able to sup- 
port itt, but did bring her doune to the ground," and kept hc-r 
there for a quarter of an hour. On the third occasion it 
attempted to pull her out of bed, if her husband had not held 
her fast. This cat she believed was Dorothy Stranger, the wife, 
of a cooper, who had threatened her, "and non else. And she 
haveinge a desire to see her did this morneing send for the said 
Dorothy, butt she was very loth to come, and comeing to her 
she gott blood of her, at the said Stranger's desire, and since 
hath been pritye well." The dress of the witch of the period is 
preserved for us by this witness. The cat was not a black but 
a grey one. " And itt did transforme ittselfe into the shape of 
the said Dorothy Stranger, in the habit and clothes she wearcs 
dayly, haveing an old black hatt upon her head, a greene waist- 
coate, and a brounish coloured petticoate."* Another woman, 
at Newcastle, Jane Watson, a mediciner and reputed witch, 
wore, in 1661, "a red waistcoate and greene petticoate." f A 
third, named Isabell Atcheson, wore a "green waistcoate." J 
Dress was not one of the items in which witches differed from 
other people. 

Jan. 11, 1654-5. Katherine Earle was accused of having 
struck Henry Hatefield, of Rhodes, parish of Rodwell, gent., 
upon the neck " with a docken stalke, or such like thing, and 
his maire upon the necke also, whereupon his maire imediately 
fell sicke and he himselfe was very sore troubled and perplexed 
with a paine in his necke." She had also clapt one Mr. Franke, 
late of Rhodes, between the shoulders with her hand, and said, 
"You are a pretty gentlemen ; will you kisse me? Where- 
upon the said Mr. Franko fell sicke before he gott home, and 
never went out of doors after, but dyed, and complained much 
against the said Katherine on his death-bed." § Katherine 

• Ibid., pp. 112,114. f Ibid., p. 93. 

% Ibid., p. 125. § Ibid., -p. 69. 


having been searched, a mark was found upon her "in the 
likenesse of a rapp." 

In the case of Jennet and George Benton, June 7, 1G56, at a 
farm called Bunny Hall, near Wakefield, Richard Jackson, the 
occupant, besides grievous torment as if he were " drawne in 
peices at the hart, backe and shoulders," hears singular noises 
"like ringing of small bells, with singinge and dancinge," 
accompanied with groans. At last he, his wife and servant, 
heard three heavy groans, and " at that instant doggs did howlo 
and yell at the windows, as though they would have puld them 
in peeces. He had also a great many swine which broako 
Ihorrow two barn dores. Also the dores in the howse at that 
time clapt to and fro ; the boxes and trunkes, as they conceived, 
was removed; and severall aparitions like black doggs and catts 
was seene in the house. And he saith that, since the time the 
said Jennet and George Benton threatned him, he hath lost 18 
horses and meares." * 

In such cases complaints were common of the heart being 
racked with pains. Frances Mason, daughter of a soldier at 
Tynemouth, Feb. 15, 1659-60, having lost the power of her 
limbs, attributes it to one Elizabeth Simpson, who she said 
tormented her in bed, " and did punch her heart and pull her 
in pieces;" whereupon the father drew blood from the accused, 
and his daughter obtained quiet, but not the use of her limbs.t 
Stranger (Nov. 10, 1663) " tormented Jane Milburne's body 
soe intollerably that she could nott rest all the night, and was 
like to teare her very heart in pieces." J May 17, 1673, 
Dorothy Himers of Morpeth accuses Margaret Milburne, of 
causing her to take fits in which she apprehended she saw the 
said Margaret; and in one of these she " did apprehend that 
alio did seo the said Margaret Milbourne, widdow, standing on 
nn oatescepp att her bed feet, thinkeing she was pulling her 

• Ibid., p. 75. t Ibi(L > P 82 - t Ibi(L > P- 113 - 

VOL. II. y 


heart with something like a threed."* In one instance, at New- 
castle, Aug. 8, 1661, the pain at the heart is by the use of a 
certain ointment, employed to ease a headache, transferred to 
the witch herself. The witch appears in the night-time at the 
bedside, and asks him to " wype off that on thy forehead, for 
it burns me to death." He asked her what it was that burnt 
her ; she answered " that ointment that is on thy brow," and 
puft and blew and cryed, " Oh, burnt to the heart."f 

Oct. 10, 1661, Mary Watson, witch and mediciner, transfers 
a disease to a dog within the house, which " presently dyed/'J 

Aug. 18, 1664, at Newcastle, the complainant, Alice Thomp- 
son, continually cried out " of one Katherine Currey, alias 
Potts, that wrongs her, saying, ' Doe you not see her ? doe you 
not see her, where the witch theafe stands ? ' And she doth 
continually cry out that she pulls her heart ; she pricks her 
heart, and is in the roome to carry her away." § 

Cases of vomiting pins, or being pricked with them, occur. 
July 12, 1656, Elizabeth Mallory, daughter of the Lady 
Mallory, of Studley Hall, who afterwards became wife of Sir 
Cuthbert Heron, of Chipchase, Bart., and at his decease re- 
married Ralph Jenison, of Elswick, Esq., aged 14, accused 
William and Mary Wade as the cause of her long sickness and 
fits, declaring she would never recover till the woman had con- 
fessed she had done her wrong, or was carried before a justice 
and punished. This young lady made people believe that she 
" vomited severall strange things, as blottinge paper full of 
pins and tlired tied about, and likewise a lumpe of towe with 
pins and thred tied about it, and a peice of wooll and pins in it, 
and likewise two feathers and a sticke." In another fit she saw 
two cats, " one blacke and one yellow catte." When they were 

* Ibid., p. 202. f Ibid; P- 89. 

| Ibid., p. 93. § Ibid., p. 124. 


committed to prison she was freed of her fits. Wade himself 
rightly divined what was the matter with her, viz. she was 
" possessed with an evill spirit," * not unlike that which ani- 
mated Christian Shaw of Bargarran House, who caused the 
death of seven poor persons by similar accusations. Tho date, 
however, is later, 1697. f April 1, 1670, it was shown that on 
the previous day Mary Earneley of Alne, Yorkshire, fell into a 
very sick fit, in which she continued a long time, " sometimes 
cryinge out that Wilkinson wyfe prickt her with pins, clappingo 
her hand upon her thighs, intimatinge that shee pricked her 
thighes;" and she also ran a spit into her. The old woman, 
Ann Wilkinson, was also accused of bewitching to their death 
two sisters of Mary Earneley's, out of the mouth of one of them 
there being taken, a little before her death, " a black ribbond 
with a crooked pinne at the end of it." She also cursed people, 
and prevented butter coming when there was a churning. She 
was acquitted, t In another Yorkshire case, Aug. 6, 1674, 
" Timothy Hague of Denby, saith, that he was present when 
Mary Moore did vomitt a peice of bended wyer and a peice of 
paper with two crooked pins in it, and hath att severall other 
tymes seene her vomitt crooked pinns." § 

An accusation of the latest stamp occurs Dec. 11, 1680, 
before Sir Thomas Loraine, wherein Nicolas Rames informs 
that Elizabeth Fenwicke, of Longwitton, "being a woman of bad 
fame for witchcraft severall yeares hearetofore," had threatened 
to avenge herself for some ill turn he had done her. This sho 
does by tormenting his sick wife, by riding upon her, and 
endeavouring to pull her out of the bed on to the floor. More- 

• Ibid., pp. 75-78. 

t Mitcholl nnd Dickie's Philosophy of Witchcraft, pp. 33-116. 

\ Depositions, <$r., pp. 176-7. 

§ Ibid., p. 210. 



over, in presence of the wife, a black man, thought to be the 
devil, " by the said Elizabeth Fenwicke danc togeather." Rames 
goes to the accused to ask her to visit his wife ; and when she 
came his wife proposed to Fenwicke that she must have blood 
of her for bewitching her. "The saide Elizabeth answesheard 
again that if her blood would doe her any good she might have 
had it long since, and the saide Elizabeth would ha cutt her 
finger, and the sayde Anne Raines answeared againe, ' I will 
have it uppon the brow whear other people give it uppon 
witches;' and the sayde Elizabeth answeareth againe that if her 
chyldren should get notice of the saide blooding they would goe 
madde." But she consented to the operation, and the husband 
appears to have thrice run a great pin into her brow, before she 
would bleed, '' and she, the sayde Elizabeth, desired him nott to 
discloase it, and he declared that if no further prejudice was to 
him or his wife he would not prosecute her." She was 

The most interesting Northumbrian trial of all, that of Anne 
Baites and others, April 2, 1673, apparently modelled on some 
of the Scots cases of that period, would require to be given 
entire, being, as Mr. Baine remarks, " one of the most extra- 
ordinary that has ever been printed."! 


I did not find many fresh illustrations of the belief in witch- 
craft in those portions of Northumberland where I endeavoured 
to hunt them up. 

The last witch in the north was said to have been burnt at 
Eglingham, a village mid-way between Wooler and Alnwick. 
I have only tradition for this statement. 

A woman was " scored above the breath " for a witch, some 

* Ibid., p. 247. f Ibid -> PP- 191-201. 


goventy or eighty years ago, at St. Ninian's fair, which is held 
on the 27th of September in a stubble field near Fenton, on the 
River Till, not far from Floddenfield. One attacked and 
scored the other for seducing her husband, making a bloody 
cross on her brow with a pin. 

A little girl at Wooler said one day, " I met , whom 

folks call a witch. But I crookit my thumb at her." Mr. J. 
G. Fenwick says that in Weardale, in passing a witch, doubling 
the thumbs under the forefingers was considered a preventive 
to being bewitched. * 

Those who have the eyebrows met are witches and warlocks. 

Red butterflies are killed, being accounted witches. 

An old man told me that his aunt used to keep a piece of 
bour tree, or elder, constantly in her kist (chest) to prevent her 
clothes from malign influence. 

A stone with a natural hole in it was suspended from the 
bed-post to prevent sweating at night. It was called a " self- 

A similar stone hung on a nail on which the key is placed is 
called a witch's stone. 

Moreover, a stone with a hole in it tied to the tester of the 
bed prevents nightmare from man and beast. f 

A friend writes from near Newcastle in 1845 : " Stones with 
holes in them I have frequently seen hung up behind the doors 
of dwelling-houses to keep out evil spirits." 

Witch stones, so far as I have examined them, consist of old 
whorl-stones, of loom-weights, of any holed stone picked up in 

* Folklore tteronl, ii. p. -'0"). 

\ Sue Aubrey's Mixvcllanii's, p. 147. To prevent the hug riding 
horses at night, it may be either a fliut with a hole in it hung by 
tho manger, or a flint without a hole will do if suspended from their 


the fields; and even of the upper stone of querns or hand- 

Cows and cows' milk are particularly susceptible of being 
hurt or perverted by witches. 

All the cows' milk of a place in Northumberland was once 
bewitched, the milk having become so glutinous that it could be 
drawn out in strings. To remedy this the cows were milked 
in a south-running stream.* 

When cows eat nettles, or have their udders bitten by 
pismires, they give bloody or lappered or stringy milk, and 
then are said to be bewitched. Also when the kirn is witched, 
and butter will not come, it is discovered that if a stronger 
person than the owner, whoso strength is failing, does the 
churning, there is nothing wrong with the product. 

Witched cows recover if sold. 

When a cow calved it was customary to strew salt all along 
its back to keep the witch from hurting it. 

If a stranger going past a woman milking a cow doesn't say, 
" Good luck to her," i.e. the cow, some misfortune will befall 
her. In the parish of Grargunnock, Stirlingshire, if a cow is 
suddenly taken ill it is ascribed to some extraordinary cause. 
If a person, when called to see one, does not say, " I wish her 
luck," there would be a suspicion he had some bad design.t . 

A farmer in Northumberland at one time lost a number of 
his cattle by a strange malady. Becoming suspicious that tbey 
were bewitched by a certain malevolent neighour, he had 
recourse to a " Skeely man," who advised him to take the 

* " Est quando lac etiam cruentum excernitur : quo animadverso, 
mnlicrculaa lac omnc emulsum aquas fluenti infundunt ; aleae 
mulctrali inverso id est fundo emulgeat, et signo crucis notant. H«c 
scribo ut aniles superstitiones istre proditte improbuntuv." — Con. 
Ocsneri Historia Animalium, vol i. pp. 58, 59. 

f Sinclair's Stat. Acct, of Scotland, xviii. p. 123. 


heart of one of the dead cattle and burn it, after having stuck 
it full of pins. While this was doing he was to take the pre- 
caution of having the doors and windows kept close. The rite 
was scarcely half completed, when the person suspected came 
" reeling '' at the doors and windows for admission, " as if she 
would pull the house down." If the witch arrives before the 
heart is consumed, the operation is rendered inefficacious. A 
sheep's heart stuck full of pins and similarly treated was effica- 
cious for a bewitched cow. These are from both the north and 
south of the county. 

" In the parish of Sowerby, near Halifax, Yorkshire," writes 
Mr. John Carr, of Bondgate Hall, Alnwick, in 1824, "where 
the writer happened to be at the time, the cow of a poor 
cottager was taken ill soon after calving, and in the family 
distress at the prospect of losing its chief support, a cunning 
man was consulted, who declared that the cow was bewitched 
and the true calf carried off, and replaced by the witch herself 
in the shape of the calf then with the cow, and that by sur- 
rounding the disguised witch with a circle of fire, and slowly 
roasting her until quite consumed, the cow would recover and 
the true calf be restored. The horrible sacrifice was actually 
performed in the midst of the assembled villagers, and the 
terrific bellowings that issued from the burning sufferer were 
deomed certain evidence of the witch's presence and inability to 
escape, and were replied to by triumphant shouts at the success 
of the infamous proceeding. The cow died, and the vile 
impostor saved his conjuring reputation by impudently alleging 
that they had not, as he had urgently directed, conducted the 
previous preparations with sufficient secrecy, whereby the witch 
discovered what they wcro about, and again changed places 
with the calf before the burning." * 

.Wurastle Miiijuiiiie, 1821, p. 4. 


A female on the harvest ridge, once haying the misfortune 
to break her sickle, was obliged to proceed home for another. 
As she went hastening along a hare hirpled across the path 
before her, and then turned round to gaze. She hurled her 
broken sickle at the hare, and it sprang suddenly across the 
field, as if a pack of harriers were on its trail. At her return, 
near the same spot, she encountered the hare, in the same 
attitude as before, and, determined not to be beat this time, she 
launched the fresh sickle at it and struck it on the brow. But 
instead of flying the hare with a wild scream of vengeance 
darted at her, and began biting and scratching her on the face 
like an enraged cat. A fight, attended with loud outcries, then 
commenced betwixt the two, which two labourers mowing in 
the vicinity overhearing hastened to the woman's rescue, else 
there is no saying what might have happened. On attempting 
to lay hold of the hare it slipped through Iheir hands and 
escaped. Not long after that a very old woman in that quarter 
had, in some unknown manner and by a sharp instrument, an 
ugly gash made athwart her brow. This venerable dame had 
hitherto been very intimate with the individual who fought with 
the hare, but from that time forward could not abide her, and 
diligently avoided her presence. She now fell under the impu- 
tation of being a witch, for though looked upon askance and 
with dread, she had hitherto preserved external propriety. 
Losing this, she came forth in her true colours, renounced the 
friendship of her former associates, wreaked her fury on milk, 
butter-churns, and dwining babies, fell foul of the farmer's 
stock and shook his corn — in short, committed all the untoward 
disasters within her neighbours' limited geographical range. 
What befell her I was not told. 

The most powerful efficient in averting the influence of magic 
and in revoking the spells of witches was witchwood, the 
mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia), called in divers parts of 
Northumberland tho "Whicken tree and Rowan tree. Under 


these standard terms it is mentioned by Turner, the father of 
English botany, in his Herbal, part ii. fol. 143, Cologne, 1562. 
" The tre groweth in moyste woodes, and it is called in Norfh- 
umberlande a rowne tre, or a whicken tre ; in the south partes 
of England a quick beam tre." Ihre derives the word rowan 
from runa, incantation, because of the use made of the wood 
in magical arts. As an infallible antidote to avert supernatural 
influences of a malignant nature, it has long been celebrated. 
Nations bore attestation to its sovereign qualities, and assigned 
to it functions the most select. Eudbeck mentions its sacred 
character among the northern Gothic tribes. They inscribed 
their laws upon its wood, an honour which it shared with 
the beech. Bishop Heber noticed a parallel superstition in 
Hindustan connected with a species of mimosa, which at a 
little distance wears considerably the aspect of the mountain 
ash. " A sprig worn in the turban, or suspended over the 
bed, was a perfect security against all spells, evil-eye, &c, 
insomuch that the most formidable wizard would not, if he 
could help it, approach its shade " (Heber's Journal). In 
the days of yore, when fairies footed it on every emerald 
hillock, and witches cast their cantrips with unlimited might — 
when such a debasing state of ideal fear prevailed that " the 
sound of a shaken leaf" inspired images of dread — rowan-tree 
was of paramount importance in Northumberland and else- 
where. Almost every mansion and outhouse was guarded with 
it in some shape, for it would have been heresy to doubt the 

adage — 

" Eowan tree and red thread 
Haud the witches a' in dread." * 

* There is a Roxburghshire saying to this effect : 

" Hagborry, hagberry, hang the deil, 
Rowan-tree, rowan-tree, help it weel." 

The hag-berry i> the bird -cherry (Primus padus). 


Usually the dwelling-house was secured with a rowan-tree 
pin, that the evil thing might not cross the threshold. In 
addition to the bit in his pocket, the ploughman yoked his oxen 
to a rowan-tree bow, and with a whip attached to a rowan- 
tree shaft, drove the incorrigible steer along the ridge. More- 
over, the ox not unlikely had his horns decorated with red 
thread, amidst which pieces of rowan-tree were inserted, or a 
portion of the wood carved with quaint devices and similarly 
garnished with threads would be dangling at the tail. Thus 
fenced in person, home, and stall, the agricultural labourer 
bade defiance to sorcery and fiendish malice. It used to be 
remembered that once when the axle-tree of a cart driven by 
a superstitious old man broke down, his more enlightened com- 
panions jeeringly asked at him where was his " rowan-tiee 
pin the day ? " In a case of supposed witchcraft in Yorkshire, 
Aug. 26, 1674, Thomas Bramhall was inexpugnable to magic 
art, " for they tie soe much whighen about him, I cannot come 
to my purpose, else I could have worn him away once in two 
yeares." * But it was equally requisite to a prosperous voyage 
on the deep, and sailors, to ensure no other hazards than those 
incidental to their profession, had over and above their cargo 
a store of this harm-expelling preservative on board, f 

A deceased friend wrote to me several years since, saying : 
" Mr. John Holmes, of the Banks, in Cumberland, knows an 
old man who travels the country with besoms. He carries 
with him and gives to the women, his customers, pieces of 
rowan-tree, of an inch or so in length, with various cuts and 
notches on each, two of which, one on each end of the piece 
of wood, are in the form of a cross. These, he says, if carried 
in the pocket, will keep off evil spirits." 

* Depositions, §-c.,from York Castle, p. 209. 
f J. H., in Richardson's Local Hist. Table Book, Leg, Div., ii. 
1>. 183. 


I once met with a person who told me a pure version of the 
enchanted toad at Bamburgh Castle, the same story which 
Lambe converted into the ballad of the " Laidley Worm," in 
which the development of the plot mainly depends upon the 
potentiality of the rowan-tree over whitchcraft. I communi- 
cated the story to my friend Dr. Johnston, of Berwick, who 
has interwoven it with his own materials in a passage or two 
of his Natural History of the Eastern Borders, pp. 233, 234. 
I will give it nearly as it is found there. Once on a time — 
a long time ago — Bamburgh Castle was the residence of a 
witch stepmother, who, from hatred and jealousy, banished her 
lord's son beyond the seas, and changed his fair daughter into 
a toad ; and this loathsome shape she was to endure until her 
brother could return and dissolve the enchantment. The fond 
brother very often made the attempt to return, but as often in 
vain, for the coast was guarded by a powerful spell, and every 
ship that strove to reach the shore was either driven off by 
invisible agents, or the nails drew off themselves from the 
beams, and the vessel went to pieces. At length he bethought 
himself of having a ship built entirely of rowan-tree wood, and 
the sails and the ropes bound with rod thread. Immediately 
on the brother's embarkation the vessel bounded over the 
favouring sea, and in .spite of the might and skill of the witches 
under the command of the step-dame, it sailed, as if self-moved, 
into the desired haven.* Lambe's version illustrates this more 

fully : 

" They built a ship without delay, 
With masts of the rown-tree ; 
With fluttering sails of silk so tine, 
And set her on the sea. 

• There was no " interposition of n fairy " in my draft of the 


" The queen look'd out at her bower window 
To see what she could see ; 
There she espied a gallant ship 
Sailing upon the sea. 

" When she beheld the silken sails 
Full glancing in the sun, 
To sink the ship she sent away 
Her witch, wives every one. 

" The spells were vain ; the hags returned 
To the queen in sorrowful mood, 
Crying that witches have no power, 
Where there is rown-tree wood." 

Aided by the Index, which, however, is not very correct, of 
the 1st vol. of Richardson's Table Booh, a summary of the 
incidents of witchcraft in Northumberland and Durham may be 
compiled. 28th July, 1582, Allison Lawe of Hart, co. Durham, 
" a notorious sorcerer and enchanter," did penance once in the 
market-place at Durham, once in Hart Church, and once at 
Norton Church. Janet Bainbridge and Janet Allenson, of 
Stockton, were accused of " asking counsell at witches, and 
resorting to Allison Lawe for cure of the sicke" (Surtees). 
Two men and two women were committed to prison by Sir John 
Forster, on suspicion of having caused the death of Nicholas 
Ridley, of Willimoteswick, sheriff of Northumberland, who died 
16th January, 1585-6 (Sharp). In 1649, the witch-finder, in 
consequence of a petition from the inhabitants of Newcastle, was 
invited there from Scotland by the magistrates. This impostor 
set aside twenty-seven out of the thirty suspected persons, and 
in consequence fourteen witches and one wizard belonging to 
Newcastle were executed on the town moor (Gardiner's England's 
Grievance). The following entry occurs in tho register of the 
parochial chapelry of St. Andrew in Newcastle : " 1650, 21st 


August. — Thes partes her under named, wer executed in the town 
mor for wiches. — Isab' Brown, Margrit Maddeson, Ann Watson, 
Ellenor Henderson, Elisabeth Dobson, Matthew Boner, Mrs. 
Elisabeth Anderson, Jane Huntor, Jane Koupling, Margrit 
Brown, Margrit Moffit, Ellenor Robson for stellin of silver 
spownes, Kattren Wellsh for a wieh, Aylles Hume, Marie 
Pootes." At the close occurs " Jane Martin, the miliars wif 
of Chattin, for a wieh." In 1649 the following entry occurs in 
Gateshead parish books, whence it is copied into Sykes' Local 
Records : " Paid at M ti9 Watson's when the justices sat to 
examine the witches, 3s. 4d. ; for a grave for a witch, 6d. ; for 
trying the witches, £1 5s." 

The witch-finder afterwards went into Northumberland to 
try women there, where he got of some three pounds a piece to 
allow them to escape, for which being called in question he fled 
into Scotland, where it is satisfactory to know he was hanged 
(Brand). July 30, 1649, the magistrates of Berwick invited 
him to try witches within the town (Fuller). 

In January, 1652, Francis Adamson and one named Powle 
were executed in the city of Durham for witchcraft (Surtees). 
At the assizes at Durham, July, 1668, Alice Armstrong, wife 
of Christopher Armstong, of Shotton, labourer, was tried for 
bewitching to death an oxe belonging to Barbara Thompson 

In the Legendary Division of the Table Bool; i. pp. 391, 
396, Mr. Robert White narrates the adventures of one of the 
Delavals of Seaton Delaval with witches, whose place of con- 
vention for the performance of horrible rites was Wallsend Old 

" The Witches of Birtley " form the subject of a well-written 
sketch by James Telfer in his Tales and Ballads (London, 1852, 
pp. 241-261). I question, however, if there is any more 
truth in it than the declaration in the opening sentence that 


" the village of Birtley, in North Tynedale, is spoken of by 
tradition as having been at one time a notable haunt of witches." 
Jane Frizzle, a notorious witch on the Northumbrian side of the 
Derwent, near Muggleswick, as we learn from a note to a poem 
in the Derwent, written by Dr. John Carr, who died in 1807, 
"practised on men, maidens, and cattle," but ere he had com- 
posed it " she had long breathed her last." The scene of Robert 
Davidson of Morebattle's poem, " The Witch's Cairn," was, I 
was told by the late Mr. George Tate, Newton Torr, on the 
River College, among the Cheviots. Its natural crown of rock, 
resembling a ruinous castle, certainly corresponds to " the old 
cairn on the edge of the fell," but the author in his notes does 
not exactly specify where it was situated. This little book, 
entitled Leaves from a Peasant's Cottage Drawer, was pub- 
lished in Edinburgh in 1848, pp. 230, 18mo. His notes make 
reference to cases of witch-burning at Beggar-Muir on the 
estate of Hartrigge, near Jedburgh, where the last victim is 
supposed to have perished in 1696. 

Margaret Stothard, a poor old woman belonging to Edling- 
ham, was, 22nd Jan., 1682-3, delated for witchcraft and charm- 
ing before Henry Ogle, of Edlingham, Esq. The depositions 
elicited several popular beliefs in this department of necro- 
mancy. To John Mills, a yeoman at Edlingham Castle, while 
he was in his bed at night, came something in a blast of wind, 
which, pressing him over the heart, emitted cries like those of a 
cat ; then a light shone at the bed-foot, and Margaret Stothard 
was visible in the light ; with which visitation he was so greatly 
affrighted that he took a fit, during which it required several 
persons to hold him. Moreover, one night, when returning 
from paying his rent, be had occasion to ride past her door, when 
a flash of light crossed " over before him, and as he thought 
went to her dore," wherewith both him and his horse were 
terrorstruck ; for " his hair stood upward on his head," and his 


horse " took to a stand and would neither goe back nor for- 
ward," till he prayed to a higher power for deliverance. This 
same woman had charmed a sick or rather a bewitched child 
of one Jane Carr, of Lemenden, and cast the trouble upon a 
calf, which " went perfectly madd," and had to be slaughtered. 
A child of a woman belonging to Lorbottle, who had slighted 
this supposed witch in denying her alms, grew unwell the next 
morning, complaining that the woman was like to break her 
back, and press out her heart, and continued in this condition 
till she died next morning about cock-crow. " My Lady 
Widdrington," being informed of the circumstances, could form 
no other conclusion than that the child had been bewitched. 
But the more curious particulars are contained in the evidence 
of Isabel Maine, of Shawdon, spinster, who was the dairymaid 
of Jacob Pearson, of Titlington, gent. The milk of the cows 
having gone wrong would not produce cheese, and believing 
this to be occasioned by " some witch or other," she applied to 
Margaret Stothard, of Edlingham, as a " reputed charmer." 
Margaret promised to make all right again, and accomplished 
it within eight days. Although Miss Maine was a half believer 
in Margaret's powers, she was not disposed to make experiments 
on the subject ; still she must have her curiosity satisfied. " In- 
formant asked the said Margaret Stothard the reason why the 
milk came to be in that condition, she the said Margaret said 
that it was forespoken. and that some ill eyes had looked on it ; 
and this Informant further asked her what was the reason that 
her master's cows swett soe when they stood in the byar ; and 
then she bidd liir take salt and water and rubb upon their backs, 
and she further said to this Informant as touching the milk, 
allwayes when you goe to milke your cowes put a little salt in 
your pale or skeel ; this Informant refusing to doe that, she 
would then give her a piece of Rowntree wood, and bid her 
take that alwayes along with hir when she went to the cowes." 


She kept the piece of wood, but found no necessity for using it, 
as the quality of the milk was restored, and she could get " both 
butter and cheese of it." She then proposed to pay Margaret 
" for hir soe mending or charming of the said milk, and would 
have given hir a penny, and said it was charmer's dues, but she 
answered and said noe, a little of anything will serve me." Her 
master being informed of it, gave Margaret a fleece of wool, to 
which she added a little more, in a free-handed sort of way ; 
the result being that after that " they had their milke in very 
good order." The last piece of advice received, she indignantly 
rejected. " The said Margaret Stothard said if you judge any 
person that hath wronged your milke, take your cowe-tye and 
aske the milke againe for God's sake (a common formula in such 
a case),* and she the said informant answered she would neer 
do that, if their milke should never be right any more." f It is 
probable that no further proceedings were taken. 

In a calendar of prisoners confined in the Castle of New- 
castle, to be tried at the assizes in 1628-9, occurs the name of 
" Jane Eobson, wife of Matthew Eobson of Leeplish," in 
Tynedale, committed by " Cuthbert Ridley, clerk, 19° July, 
1628," and charged "with the felonious killing of Mabell 
Robson, the wife of George Robson, of Leeplish aforesaid, his 
brother-in-law," by sorcery or witchcraft.^ 

In 1711 William Grey was a quack and warlock doctor at 
Littlehoughton, Northumberland. (Parish Register of Long- 
houghton >y ) 

* Milking the cow-tether, see Napier's Folklore, <$•<;., pp. 75, 170 ; 
Henderson's Folklore, pp. 199, 200 ; Chambers' Popular Rhymes of 
Scotland, p. 329, ed. 1870 : Kelly's Indo-Europ. Trad, and Folklore, 
p. 230. 

■f Mackenzie's Hist, of Northumberland, ii. pp. 33-36. 

t Mickleton MSS. in ibid., p. 36. 


The belief in witchcraft died hard. Among the obituary 
notices in the Newcastle Chronicle for March 21, 1807, occurs 
the following : " At Hartburn, near Stockton, aged upwards 
of 90, a woman, who has for many years past, by the common 
people, been reputed a witch." 

A proprietor of an estate near Wooler, a generation back, 
erected a shepherd's cottage in a most exposed situation near 
the summit of Hartsheugh, one of the lower Cheviot Hills. 
The wife of the last shepherd who tenanted it got credit for 
being a witch and a brewer of storms. The winds, however, 
overmatched her, for they not only dismantled the house, but 
" blew up the hearth-stone." 

In a list of the inhabitants of Wooler about 1782, written by 
James Jackson from recollection in 1837, I find mention of 
" Jenny Hardy, a reputed [witch," as living near Padge Pool 
Garden, about the north-west end of the town. The house and 
its neighbour,5Jboth very low-roofed and small, are now 

An anonymous writer, who dates from Alnwick, Feb. 14, 
1770, gives a credible statement of the effects of being nurtured 
up in superstitious beliefs, such as were prevalent at that period, 
witchcraft being not the smallest to be dreaded. The writer 
had been initiated by his grandmother, until he became a 
"perfect adept in all the branches of superstition, from the 
trifling prognostics of coffee-grounds to the awful predictions of 
the planetary worlds." " A hare could not start or a magpie 
chatter in my walks which I did not interpret as prognosticating 
some calamity. A couple of straws lying across each other in 
my path were as terrible as a drawn sword in the hand of a 
murderous ruffian." " My case was by no means singular. I 
had several acquaintances equally wrapt up in superstitious 
absurdity. One would not pare his nails on a Friday because it 

VOL. II. z 


was unlucky; another would refrain from going on the most 
important journey if he met a person carrying water as he set 
out ; and a third pretended to cure several distempers by burn- 
ing horse-shoes in the chamber fire while he repeated certain 
magical prayers and incantations over the patient. A poor old 
superannuated woman was nearly bled to death by our thrusting 
a large pin into a vein in her temples, we having long suspected 
her for a witch, and the author of several little accidents which 
at that time befel us ; many of us constantly wore charms and 
amulets for the prevention of witchcraft ; and in short, we were 
devoted slaves to all the foolish freits which fable yet has 
feign'd or fear conceived."* 

Mr. Raine is of opinion that in none of the trial cases there 
was any conviction, and compliments the clear-headed jurymen 
of the North from their freedom from prejudice. At some of the 
Durham assizes the accused were perhaps not so fortunate. In 
1649-50 witches cost the ratepayers of Gateshead much good 
money. " The poor suspected creatures had sad treatment at 
the hands of blind justice : arrested, examined, imprisoned, 
buried, — at the charge of the community." 

£ s. d. 
Going to the justices about the witches . . . .040 
Paid at Mrs. Watson's when the justices sat to examine 

A the witches . .034 

Given to them in the Tolebouth, and carrying the witches 

to Durham . . . . . . . .040 

To constables, for carrying the witches to goul . .040 

Trying the witches . . . . , . .15 

A grave for a witch 6 

The departed witch of St. Mary's, buried at a charge of six- 

* The Literary Register or Weekly Miscellany, vol. ii. pp. 48, 44. 
Newcastle, 1770. 


pence for her grave, would be committed to the earth in a parish 

Notes op Possession in Books. 

In a copy of Sir John Skene's Regiam Majestatem, Edin- 
burgh, 1609, that had belonged in 1 708 to Sir James Calder, 
of Muirtoune, who was created a baronet 5th November, 1686, 
I find the following : 

" This book is mine if ye would know, 
By leters nyne I will you show, 
The first is J, a leter bright, 
The next is Calder in all mens sight. 

James Calder." 

" Sir James Calder of Mourtone is the right owner of this book, 
1708 years. Amen." 

" Hear is a book, but small, 
But doth in it contain." 

This book had also been the property of Robert Gordon, 
rector of Sutherland, 1617, also of George Lord Strathnaver, 
who died fifteenth Earl of Sutherland, 4th March, 1703. It 
contains another rhyme in an ancient hand. 

" James Desenne God me defend, 
And in my misrie God wits send, 
I pray to God my hand to mend, 
And bring my sowell to ane guid end. 
ffinis quoth dan bobus." 

* Mr. James Clephane on Abigail and Timothy Tyzack, and Old 
Gateshead. Arch. /Elian., n.s., viii. pp. 230, 231. 

z 2 

340 the denham tkacts. 

Some New Year's Observances. 

To request a light on the morning of the New Year in North 
Northumberland is held by those retentive of old scruples as a 
very bad omen. At a farmhouse a careless servant, neglecting 
to cover up her fire on the Old Year's night, had to be obliged to 
her neighbours before it would kindle in the morning. Her 
master, apprised of the fatal omission, predicted some unforseen 
evil would be the consequence, and accordingly some time after 
two valuable cows that this girl milked were found one morning 
strangled at the stake. Several will not for any consideration 
even allow a borrowed fire to proceed from their dwellings. 
This heathenish belief is condemned about a.d. 746, in a letter 
from St. Boniface to Pope Zachary, whence it appears that " at 
Rome on New Year's day no one would suffer a neighbour to 
take fire out of her house, or anything of iron, or lend any- 
thing." (Hospinian apud Brand, Pop. Ant., i. 9.) Nor was it 
lucky to sweep any dirt or ashes out of the house, nor throw 
out dirty water on New Year's day, but it was customary to 
gather everything inward, in order that plenty might bless the 
household for another season. All dirty clothes must be washed 
up before the New Year's advent. While careful thus of 
keeping one's property together, it was on the other hand 
unlucky to go out empty-handed, and to meet one with a bottle 
and glass in hand was fortunate. On that day to meet as first- 
foot a person with the eyebrows met was considered a bad 
encounter. To spill salt is at all times unlucky, but it is 
especially heinous on New Year's day. The coincidence of these 
with some of the observances at New Year's tide in the West 
of Scotland are worth remarking. Confer Napier's Folklore, p. 

The Eev. G. Home Hall, F.S.A., in his article in the Arch. 
jEliana, n.s., viii. pp. 66, G7 (1879), on " Ancient Well Wor- 


ship in North Tynedale," mentions several curious observance?, 
connected with wells in West Northumberland at New Year's 
tide, survivals of ancient paganism. At the ancient village of 
Wark there are three springs of water for tho supply of the 
inhabitants. " On New Year's morning, within memory, each 
of these wells was visited by the villagers in the hope of 
their being the first to take what was called the ' Flower 
of the Well ' [see Brand's Popular Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 366 
et seq., who refers to this curious custom], that is, the first 
draught drunk by any one in the New Year. I have heard of 
one aged crone, who had the reputation of being uncanny, and 
concerned in forbidden devices of witchcraft, endeavouring to 
anticipate her rivals by going to the wells before ' the witching 
midnight hour,' so as to be in readiness for the advent of the 
incoming year. Whoever first drank of the spring would obtain, 
it was believed, marvellous powers throughout the next year, 
even to the extent, as my informant averred, of being able to 
pass through key-holes and take nocturnal flights in the air. 
And the fortunate recipient of such extraordinary powers notified 
his or her acquisition thereof by casting into the well an offering 
of flowers or grass, hay or straw, from seeing which the next 
earliest devotees would know that their labour was in vain when 
they, too late, came to the spring in the hope of possessing the 
flower of the well." At the Croft-foot Well at Birtley (formerly 
Birkley) the same custom was followed in the last generation. 
"There the villagers of a generation ago frequented the well in 
early hours of the New Year, like their neighbours at Wark ; 
but they held that the fortunate first visitant of the well on New 
Year's morning who should fill his flask or bottle with the water 
would find that it retained its freshness and purity throughout 
the whole year, and also brought good luck to the house in which 
it remained." 

342 the denham teacts. 

Midsummer Bonfires. 

The Rev. Gr. R. Hall, writing in 1879, says that " the fire 
festivals or bonfires of the summer solstice at the Old Mid- 
summer until recently were commemorated on Christenburg 
Craga and elsewhere by leaping through and dancing round the 
fires, as those who have been present have told me." " The 
driving of cattle through the smoke of the need-fire, as a sup- 
posed preventative of murrain, and the carrying from farm to 
farm as quickly as men could ride the sacred self-lighted fire, 
made by two pieces of dry or rotted wood being rubbed together 
very quickly, has occurred at Birtley within the last thirty years ; 
and this forms one of the most recent survivals of the adoration 
once so generally rendered to the great orb of day and to the 
element of fire." * 

The Rev. J. E. Elliot Bates, rector of Whalton, in a paper 
on Whalton and its Vicinity, written for the Berwickshire 
Naturalists' Club (Proc, vol. vi. pp. 242-3 J, narrates that " on 
Midsummer's eve, reckoned according to the old style, it was 
formerly the custom of the inhabitants, young and old, not only 
of Whalton but of most of the adjacent villages, to collect a 
large cartload of whins and other combustible materials, which 
was dragged by them with great rejoicing (a fiddler being seated 
on the top of the cart) into the village and erected into a pile. 
The people from the surrounding country assembled towards 
evening, when it was set on fire ; and whilst the young danced 
around it, the elders looked on smoking their pipes and drinking 
their beer, until it was consumed. There can be little doubt 
that this curious old custom dates from a very remote antiquity." 
In his evidence in March, 1878, in the Whalton Green case, 
which was deoided in favour of the right of user by the villagers, 

* Archaeologia jEliana, n.s., viii. p. 73. 


the rector of Whalton gave evidence as to the constant use of 
the part of the green in question since 1843. "The bonfire," 
he said, " was lighted a little to the north-east of the well at 
Whalton, and partly on the footpath, and people danced round 
it and jumped through it. That was never interrupted." * 

Friday Unlucky. 

The Messrs. Kichardson, painters, Newcastle, were super- 
stitious observers of lucky and unlucky days. They were 
invited on a Saturday to Day the artist's to inspect a particular 
process, but they had an engagement elsewhere. " Why not 
come on Friday then " asked Mr. Day, " when none of us are 
occupied?" The excuse was, "Me an' ma son dinna' like to 
begin any work on a Friday." 

It is unlucky to enter into the occupancy of a house at term- 
time on a Friday ; and Friday is not a good day to buy or make 
a bargain on. Sailors reckon Friday the worst day to sail on ; 
Sunday is the best day for a fortunate voyage. An emigrant 
vessel that sailed on a Friday was wrecked. 

In Northumberland it is unlucky to cut hair on a Friday, or 
pare the nails on a Sunday, for according to the rhyme : 

" Friday's hair and Sunday's horn, 
Ye'll meet the Black Man on Monanday morn." 

See also Dyer's English Folklore, p. 237 : 

" Friday cut and Sunday shorn, 
Better never have been born." 

On the other hand, " an old hexameter at the end of the 
editions of Ausonius has: Ungues Mercurio, barbam Jove, 

Arch. uEliana, ubi tap. 


Oypride crinis (nails on Wednesday, beard on Thursday, hair 
on Friday)"* 

In Westmoreland, " there are few country people will begin 
any important work on the Friday. If they commence hay- 
making or the corn harvest on that day, they believe it will have 
an unfortunate termination. It is an unlucky day, and it will 
not do to begin anything of consequence on that day." f 

At Wooler it is the same: "Never begin any work," old 
people would tell you, "that ye canna finish that week." 

Barking-out Day. 

On this subject I received a communication which is dated 
Newcastle, May 18th, 1844, from Mr. Eobert Bolam, who I 
was informed kept a school there. J I shall preserve it nearly iu 
the form in which I obtained it, as it preserves some peculiari- 
ties in a teacher's life not likely to occur now ; although among 
the Cheviots, not many years ago, I encountered young men 
who kept school and were boarded alternately for a month in 
the shepherds' houses who had children. 

" Barring-out day " was the last school day in the year — the 
day in which all schools broke up for the Christmas holidays, 
and was looked forward to with great anxiety by the pupils in 
the county of Northumberland. A day on which they for one 
short hour were to have the mastery was worth all the rest of 
the year. On that day a small subscription was made; in 
general the boys contributed 3d. and the girls 2d. each, 

* Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, vol. i. p. 123, English edition, 
t Mr. Pearson on Superstitions of Westmoreland, &c, London 
Saturday Journal, vol. i. p. 130 (1841). 

J Mr. Bolam contributed to Richardson's Table Book, Leg. Div., i. 
DO, 1'7, " "Wild Ad^el1^u^cs with the Dwarfs on Simonside Hills." 


defaulters being as rare as they were odious. To this the 
master, though well aware of the coming mutiny, added a 
donation of sixpence or a shilling, and several neighbours too 
aided the fund. With this money a quantity of bread and 
strong beer was procured, wherewith the scholars regaled them- 
selves until they became warm with the liquor, when the master 
was mobbed and turned out and the door locked on him. A 
parley then took place as to the number of days' play the 
children were to have, nor was the dominie admitted again until 
the terms were settled and he had consented to forgive them for 
their riotous conduct. 

When it is understood that the quarter pence still run on 
during the vocation, it may naturally be asked why the master 
had so strong an objection to a lengthened recess ? Though I 
do not profess to trace the custom back to its origin, I will 
hazard a conjecture that the social manner in which school- 
masters were in those times usually engaged was not without 
its influence on the conduct of both masters and pupils. It was 
customary for two or more of the wealthier inhabitants of a 
rural district to give the master his board and lodging, in weekly 
rotation, for the tuition of their children, allowing him to make 
what he could by the attendance of others in the vicinity. In 
many cases the pocket money accruing to the master was very 
scanty, and as he had to spend the holidays among his own 
friends and relations, a long vacation pressed sore upon his 
scanty finances, and furnished him with a sufficient motive for 
an early return to his free quarters, while on the other hand the 
children in their fondness for play cared not how long his stay 
was protracted. 

[Mr. Bolam had forgotten that if the schoolmaster had 
abdicated too long, his manliness would have been called in 
question, and it would have been said of him that the children 
hud the iipperhand ; moreover, if he was conscientious, there 


was the waste of precious time, even though the days were then 
of the briefest.] 

Mr. B. goes on to relate the only instance in which he ever 
saw " barring-out" put into practice:— On the 23rd December, 
1808, the pupils of Mr. Edward Storey, at Throphill, assembled 
in the schoolroom during the dinner hour, and having elected 
one of the senior boys as speaker, locked themselves in. On 
the master arriving and peremptorily requiring admission, the 
youth behind the door resolutely requested a fortnight's play. 
After a little altercation, the master, perceiving himself likely to 
be made the object of ridicule by the neighbours, who began to 
assemble to see the fun, thought it most prudent to accede to 
the terms, but no sooner had he set his foot over the threshold 
than he broke his word by abridging the term to nine or ten 
days. In this instance the bread and beer were not brought in 
till the middle of the afternoon. In this school these customs 
were wholly done away with on the following season by Mr. 
Alexander Ross, Mr. Storey's successor. 

[At Alnwick Grammar School, when Mr. Eumney was 
master, a famous barring-out occurred, which lasted for a week. 
It was headed by Percival Stockdale, who describes it in his 
Memoirs, vol. i. pp. 88-92 ; see also Tate's Hist, of Alnwick, ii. 
pp. 90, 91, 96. At that place this anniversary was observed on 
St. Andrew's day. It is still practised in some rural schools, 
but the playtime is rarely more than a single day. The contri- 
butions levied by the scholars are spent on sweetmeats. In 
Scotland "themaister is steeketoot" on the "shortest day." 
In the school that I attended there was an annual " barring- 
out." The verses used were very puerile, although defiant: 

" This is the shortest day, 
An' we maun hae the play, 
An' if ye wunna gies the play, 
We'll steek ye oot a' the day."] 


GniBARDiNO Rhymes. 

Redd room, redd room, for Guisard's sport, 
For to this house I must resort ; 
Kesort, resort, for merry play, 
Call in Goliah, and he'll clear the way. 

A room, a room, my gallant boys, 

Give us room to rise. 

Stir up the fire and give us light, 

For in this house shall be a fight. 

If you don't belieye the word I say, 

111 call in Goliah, and he'll clear the way. 

No. 2. Here comes I, Goliah, Goliah is my name, 

"With sword and pistol by my side, I hope to win the game. 
No. 1. The game, sir, the game, sir, it's not within your power ; 

I'll slash you to inches in less than half an hour. 
Nos. 1 and 2 fight ; 2 falls, and 1 breaks out into a lament. 
No. 1. Alas ! alas I what's this I've done ? 

I've ruin'd myself, and kill'd my only son ; 

Hound the kitchen, round the hall, 

Is there not a Doctor to be found at all ? 

One at the door says : 

No. 3. Yes I here am I, Johnny Brown, 

The best Doctor in the town. 
No. 1. How came you to be the best Doctor in the town ? 
No. 3. By my travels. 
No. 1. Where did you travel ? 
No. 3. Hickerty, pickerty, France and Spain, 

Then back to old England again. 
No. 1 . "What can you cure ? 
No. 8. Anything. 
No. 1. Can you cure a dead man ? 
No. 3. Yes, indeed, that I can. 

[Holds a bottle to the slain champion, and says : 
Rise up, Jack, and fight again. 
The result being that lie is resuscitated. 


No. 4 enters. Here comes in old Row-rumple, 
On my shoulder I carry a dumple, 
In my hand a piece of fat. 
Please can you pitch a copper into my old hat. 

After this beggarly conclusion, and the singing of a song or 
two, the little actors, having obtained a donation, hasten off to 
the next dwelling. 

Verses used in old Valentines in Northumberland and 

heart of gold ! thou love of mine, 

1 drew you for my Valentine ; 
I drew you out among the rest, 
And took you for my very hest. 

The rose is red, the violet's blue, 
The honey's sweet, love, so are you I 
And so are they that sent you this, 
And when we meet, we'll have a kiss. 

Round is (or as) the ring that has no end, 
So is my love to you, my friend ; 
My heart and hand are joined together, 
Your love may change, but mine can never. 

The ring is round, the bed is square, 
You and I shall be a pair. 

Some draw valentines by lot, 
And some draw those that they love not ; 
But I draw you whom I love best, 
And choose you from among the rest. 

The ring is round, and hath no end, 
And this I send to you, my friend ; 
And if you take it in good part, 
I shall be glad with all my heart. 


But if you do these lines refuse, 

The paper burn, pray me excuse. 

Excuse me now for being so bold, 

I should have wrote your name in gold ; 

But gold was scarce, as you may think, 

"Which made me write your name with ink. 

The above purports to be taken from a collection of last- 
century valentines, and was sent by Thomas Groom to Ann 
Jebb. "Ann Jebb, however, married, in 1788, a Mr. Nun- 
nerly, and became grandmother of one of the six hundred of the 
Balaklava charge." 

Kern-rhymes in Northumbeuland. 

On the conclusion of the harvest, while carrying the corn- 
baby from the field, the reapers shout : 

" A kern, a kern, a heigh-ho ! 
A kern, a kern, a heigh-ho ! 
For Mr. B.'s corn's a' well shorn, 
And we'll hae a kern, a heigh-ho." 

It is usually recited by the clearest-voiced individual in the 
company. The following specimen of it has often awakened 
the echoes on the green banks of the Wansbeck : 

" Blessed be the day our Saviour was born ; 
For Master Lennox's corn's all well shorn, 
And we will have a good supper to-night, 
And a drinking of ale, and a kern ! a kern ! ahoa ! " 

Those who would not join in the call had their ears "cobbed," 
or roughly pulled and pinched. In Glendale an abbreviated 
version of the harvest rhyme is in use : 

" The master's corn is ripe — and shorn, 
We bless the day that he was born, 
Shouting a kern 1 a kern ! ahoa." 

350 the denham tracts. 

The Dbowned Faa, a Wooleb Tradition. 

The Wooler Fairs were wont to be regularly frequented by- 
numbers of the Yetholm gypsies. At one of these periodical 
gatherings a female " faa " stole a pair of shoes from a stall. 
There had been in those days an inefficient system of police, for 
the Wooler people (although some ascribed the hasty action to 
the country attenders, tradesmen, or others of the fair) broke 
out and drowned the culprit off-hand in the " Blue Mill " dam. 
One man, it used to be told with shuddering, set his foot on the 
struggling victim to hold her down in the water. When 
reflection succeeded this popular outburst, the dead body was 
dragged out and laid upon a high stone, still conspicuous on the 
wooded bank east of the town, above the present Wooler Mill, 
where the slime was washed from the inanimate form. The 
gypsies never forgot the cruel outrage, and vowed revenge on 
the town, although, owing to the watch kept on them, they 
were prevented from putting their threats into execution. Old 
people, all gone now, used to keep in memory their dread of 
this retaliation. The town also was believed to lie under a 
curse for the unexpiated offence against justice, and whenever a 
long continuance of snow, or thunder, or rain, or gloomy days 
prevailed, the superstitious would mutter to each other that the 
prophecy was being fulfilled, " that a race of bad weather will 
hang over Wooler, for the death of Jean Gordon, drowned in 
tho mill-dam." Singular effect of isolation and consequent 
dependence on physical phenomena, that they feared no retri- 
bution worse than frowning skies, and imagined that they had 
spells of bad weather in which the rest of the district did not 
participate ! — J. H., in The Gypsies of Yetholm, tyc, edited by 
Wm. Brockie, Kelso, 1884, pp. 138-9. 

Denwiok, a pretty village of sixteen cottages, was one of the 


ancient villa of Alnwick barony. " At Michaelmas time Aln- 
wick feasted and Denwick played; and on the Monday the 
youthful population of Alnwick went to enjoy the games ; the 
distinction appears in the old popular rhyme : 

"Alnwick feast and Denwick play, 
Bonnie lasses had-away." 

Had-away is an Alnwickism, meaning come away. Tate's 
Hist, of Alnwick, ii. p. 376. 


All the ordinary games of football, handball, droppy-pocket- 
handkerchief, kittie-cat and buck-stick, or as it is called in 
Scotland, hornie holes, clubbing or brandy-ball, and through- 
the-needle-se, were played in the Pasture at Alnwick on Shrove- 
tide, Easter, Whitsuntide, Michaelmas, Christmas, and other 
holidays. Not far from Ferniherst Castle, a very large oak 
tree, one of the last remains of the great Forest of Jed, is 
called the capon-tree ; and near to Brampton, by the roadside, 
stands [stood] the branchless trunk of a capon-tree, beneath 
whose shade, tradition says, a cold collation, of which capons 
were the principal dainties, was provided for the judges of 
assize when met there by the authorities of Carlisle.* 

* In Dr. Kobert Chambers's Popular Rhymes of Scotland, p. 115, 
there is a ball-playing rhyme : 

" Stottie ba', hinnie ba', and all to me, 
How mony bairns am I to hae? 
Ane to live, and ane to dee, 
And ane to sit on the nurse's knee ! " 

Addressed to a handball by girls, who suppose that they will have 
many children as the times they succeed in catching it. 


Keppin Well. 

Glanton has a famous well with imaginary salubrious qualities. 
It was the common well of the villagers, and lies near the base 
of a slope of Glanton Hill beyond the present school-house, and 
the water issued from a pipe. I am told that it was once custo- 
mary for parents to take their weakly children to it in summer 
to be strengthened by the application of its refreshing waters. 
They were wrapped up in blankets and placed under the spout. 
It was called the Keppin' or Keppie "Well, owing to the water 
having to be caught or " kepped " in pails, or skeels, or jugs, 
with which the townspeople resorted to it in the morning to take 
their turn in carrying home the domestic supply for the day. 
It was a great resort for gossip, but had no connection with 
"kepping " in the sense of convention. 

Callaly Castle Khymes. 

The old generation who dwelt round Callaly Castle, it has 
been ascertained of late years, had some reason for their rhymes 
and traditions of another structure than the castle that occupies 
the present low-lying site having occupied the area of the old 
British Camp on Callaly Castle Hill. In preparing for a meet- 
ing of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club, on June 25th, 1890, 
Major A. H. Browne, the genial and kind-hearted owner, caused 
excavations to be made all over the platform occupied by the 
extensive settlement of the pre-historic race who had made it a 
stronghold. The operation is not jet completed, but this much 
has been revealed, that within the area of the ancient encamp- 
ment there are the foundations of a medieval building of an 
oblong shape, constructed of ashlar stones laid with mortar, and 
that the occupants had strengthened the interior wall of the old 
camp with a facing of mortar-laid ashlar, of which two courses 


at least are still preserved, having till lately been buried under 
rubbish, and tliat they had also strongly rebuilt the walls of the 
main gateway, and while quarrying for materials to execute 
these operations had deepened the ditches of the camp rings. 
It is just possible that this newly discovered edifice may have 
been the " Castrum de Kaloule vet'," the Castle of Old Callaly 
of the List of Fortalices, made in 1415, but which afterwards 
the owners may have removed to a more sheltered and better 
watered situation in the vale below. That there was in 1415 a 
" New Callaly " is apparent from " Old Callaly " being speci- 
fied in the return of fortified places of defence on the Borders 
at that period. 

The rhyme appears to have been popular, as it has become 
subject to numerous variations. I have before me materials for 
the history of these, which it may be of interest to preserve in 
a series. 

(1) It first occurs in Bell's " Northern Bards ," 1812, p. 199, 
with this comment : 

"At Callaly, the seat of the Claverings, tradition reports that, 
while the workmen were engaged in erecting the castle upon a 
hill, a little distance from the present edifice, they were surprised 
every morning to find their former day's work destroyed, and 
the whole impeded by supernatural obstacles, which causing 
them to watch, they heard a voice saying : 

' Callaly Castle stands on a height ; 
It's up in the day, and down at night ; 
Build it down on the Shepherd's Shaw, 
There it will stand and never fa'.' 

Upon which the building was transferred to the place mentioned, 
where it now stands." 

(2) Taken down from tradition from an ancient North- 
umbrian in Gateshead : 

VOL. II. 2 A 


" Callaly Castle stands on a height, 
Up in the day, and down in the night ; 
Set it up on the Shepherd's Shaw, 
There it will stand and never fa'." 

J Hardy, in Richardson's Table Book, Leg. Div., ii. p. 109 (1846); 
whence it was transferred to Mr. G. B. Richardson's Guide to 
the Newcastle and Berwick Railway, p. 12, and M. A. Denham's 
Popular Rhymes, $c, 1858 ; Monthly Chronicle, 1889, pp. 378-9. 

The first line, as I learned afterwards, varies to : 
" Callaly Ha' stands up on a height." 

(3) " Callaly Castle built on a height, 

Up in the day and down in the night, 
Builded down in the Shepherd's Shaw, 
It shall stand for aye and nerer fa'." 

George Tate, in Hist, of Ber. Nat. Club., iv. p. 225 (1861) ; W. 
W. Tomlinson's Guide to Northumberland, p. 357 (1888). 

(4) " Callaly Castle stands on a height, 

Up i' the day an' doon i' the night ; 
If ye build it on the Shepherd's Shaw, 
There it'll stand and never fa'." 

D. D. Dixon's Vale of Wldttingham, p. 32 (1887). 

(5) " Callaly Ha's up on a heet, 

Up i' the day, an' doon i' the neet, 
If ye beeld it down yon Shanter Shaw, 
There it'll stand, an' nivver fa'." 

L., on the authority of his grandfather and grandmother, Alnwick 
and County Gazette, July 5, 1890. 

(6) " Callaly Castle stands on the height, 

Up by day and down by night, 

Set it down by the Shepherd's haugh, 

There it shall stand and never fa'." 

Version at the castle, 1890. 

border sketcries and folklore. 355 

Callaly Pot Boiling. 

When the " Callaly pot is boiling " it indicates bad weather. 
A mist in a ferment rises straight up from the ravine between 
the Castle Hill and Lorbottle Moor, and clings to the top of the 
hill. This is a sure sign of rain, both as seen from Biddleston 
on the west and Shawdon on the east. The " Callaly pot" was 
boiled by the Clavering owners, who were a Catholic family, to 
provide a dinner for tho poor people who on Sunday and 
holidays attended the services at tho chapel attached to the 
mansion. The " Haggerstone kail pot," of similar import, 
has already been noticed. Both are things of the past, but the 
mist still towers up on Calhtly Hill in damp weather, an un- 
failing barometer. 

Hob Thrush's Mills. 

Hob Thrush's Mill Nick is a deep fissure with deep pot-holes 
and waterfalls in Callaly Crags, near Callaly Castle, worn out 
in the sandstone by the continuous action of the flooded waters 
of a streamlet originating in the eastern quarter of Lorbottle 
Moor. The pot-holes in the rocky water-course aro Kobin 
Goodfellow's or Hob Thrush's Mills, wherein he grinds his 
visionary grain. Tho mills are set agoing by spates, which 
bring down stones that rattle in the pot-holes, like the grinding 
gear of a mill set in motion. Another haunt of this sprite, who 
was a sort of Brownie, was at Holy Island, in Hob Thrush 
Island (now St. Cuthbert Island) , where St. Cuthbert frightened 
him, and got tho whole island to himself, name inclusive. Hob 
is very susceptible of an affront, as we are informed by Mr. 
Henderson in his Folklore of the Northern Counties, see p. 264. 
He was fond of seaside caverns. The oldest mention of him is 
perhaps containod in tho following quotation from HalliwelPs 


Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, i. p. 453. Hob- 
Thrush, a goblin or spirit generally coupled with Eobin Good- 
fellow. See Cotgrave, in v. Loup-garou ; Tarlton, p. 55. The 
millipes is called the Hob-thrush louse. 

" If lie be no Hob-thrush, nor no Eobin Goodfellow, I could find 
with all my heart to sip up a sillybub with him." — Two Lancashire 
Lovers, 1640, p. 222. 

There is a Hob's Flow near Oakenshaw Burn and Caplestone 
Edge, in the dreary swampy solitudes close on the Border line 
between England and Scotland. — J. H., in Hist. Ber. Nat. Club, 
vol. xiii. p. 52. 

Eowhope Wedding. [In Kidland.] 

A tradition of the " Eowhope Wedding " still lingers in the 
memories of several of the residents of the Vale of the Coquet. 
This wedding took place about the year 1840, when James 
Hornsby and Mary Telford were married at Alwinton Church. 
There was a race for the " Kail," when sixteen horsemen rode 
for the prize, Eowhope being seven miles from Alwinton Church, 
far among the Cheviots, at the very foot of the Windy Gyle. 
The number of guests invited to celebrate the wedding was so 
great that the little house at Eowhope was filled to the door, 
which gave rise to the local saying, whenever there was a 
throng anywhere, that it was "like the Rowhope weddin' — 
strampin' ither's taes, an' rivin' ither's claes." — D. D. Dixon's 
Tractate on Old Wedding Customs in Upper Coquetdale and 
Alndale, 1888, p. 8. 


An " Elsdon Feast," according to a native, is " Curlew Eo-ws 
and Heather Broth." Mr. W. W. Tomlinson, in his Guide to 


Northumberland, p. 306, says the village is popularly called 
" Cold Elsdon." Whatever it may be in winter, it has a 
cheerful aspect in autumn, being outwardly surrounded by a 
background of hills, but there is a cleugh behind its famous 
" Moat," down which a wind from the moorlands must sweep 
with great force. One of its rectors, the Rev. Charles Dodgson, 
could not endure its winter temperature. " I lay in the par- 
lour," he wrote, " between two beds, to keep me from being 
frozen to death, for, as we keep open house, the winds enter 
from every quarter, and are apt to creep into bed to one." The 
Hexham poet, George Chatt, thus bedittles this entertainment 
for visitors by quoting the country proverb : 

" An' heather broth an' curlew eggs, 
Ye'll get for supper there." 

The people of Eedesdale, of which this is the capital, are as 
kind-hearted and hospitable as a visitor can desire, and there 
is no lack of what the old Scotch people called " creature 
comforts." Experto crede. — J. H. 

The Heather Chieftain. 

Col. John Blenkinsopp Coulson, of Blenkinsopp Hall, was 
called the " Heather Chieftain," from having ridden to Morpeth 
at the head of the voters of South Tynedale, during the fiercely 
contested election of 1826, with a sprig of heather in his hat. 
He died in 1863. 

Houtck IIoi.k. Lowick Weather Wisdom. 

1. At Lowick, if the wind in summer is in " Howick Hole," 
the people expect thunder. 

2. When LJluuk-heddon Hill, one of the Kyloc range, looks 


as if it had approached Lowick, and the seams and depression 
on its face become vivid, rain is certain. 

3. A Norham Feast wind is very hurtful 'in September for 
shaking corn. The feast is about the equinox. 

Whittingham Place Khymes. 

Eslington for bonnie lasses, 

Callaly for craws ; 
Whittingham for white bread, 

Thrunton for Faws. 

These are places on the Alne. — Faws'= Gypsies. 

Whittingham Fair. 

Are you going to Whittingham Fair ? 

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme ; 
Remember me to one who lives there, 

For once she was a true love of mine. 

Tell her to make me a cambric shirt, 

Parsley, &c* 

Without any seam or needle work, 

For once, &c* 

Teli her to wash it in yonder well, 

Parsley, &c. 

Where never spring water or rain ever fell, 

For once, &c. 

Tell her to dry it on yonder thorn, 

Parsley, <5a\ 

Which never bore blossom since Adam was bom, 

For once, &c. 

* In the original these are ^ivcu in full. 


Now he has asked me questions three, 

Parsley, &c. 

I hope he will answer as many for me, 

For once he was, &c. 

Tell him to find me an acre of land, 

Parsley, &c. 

Betwixt the salt water and the sea-sand, 

For once, &c. 

Tell him to plough it with a ram's horn, 

Parsley, &c. 

And sow it all oyer with one pepper corn, 

For once, &c, 

Tell him to reap it with a sickle of leather, 

Parsley, &c. 

And bind it up with a peacock's feather, 

For once, &c. 

When he has done and finished his work, 

Parsley, &c. 

tell him to come and he'll have his shirt, 

For once, &o. 

D. D. Dixon's Tractate on The Vale of Whittingham, 
Newcastle-upon Tyne, 1887. 

" To Cuthbert, Car, and Oollingwood, to Shaftoe and to Hall, 
To every gallant generous heart that for King James did fall." 

Apparently a Jacobite toast, preserved among Sir Walter 
Scott's Memoranda (Lockhart J s Life of Sir Walter Scott, royal 
8vo, p. 731), not correctly taken down. George Oollingwood of 
of Eslington, a descendant of Sir Cuthbert Oollingwood, Captain 
John Shaftoe, Robert Shaftoe of Bavingtou and his son, and John 


Hall of Otterburn, were participators in the " rising " of 
1715-6. I do not remember any Carrs or Cutherts. — J. H. 

" Tinmouth was Tinmouth wlien Shiels* was nyen, 
An' Tynemouth '11 be Tynemouth when Shields is gyen." 

A Guide to Tynemouth, p. 42. 

The Four Quarters of the Globe. 

The cabin boy's "fower quarters o J the globe" were: "Roosha, 
Proosha, Memel, and Shiels." — Ibid. 

It is said that the Northumbrian salutation is, " What '\\ you 
hev?" and the Durham greeting, "What J ll you stand." 

Jarrow (Co. Ddrham). 

" There was once an awd wife at Jarra, 

An' she had nowt better t' dee, 

So she put her awd man in a barra, 

An' who-o-rl'd him ower the quay." — Ibid. 

Rimside Black Sow. 

Rimside Black Bow is a large sandstone block on Rimside 
Hill, remarkably like the effigy of the animal it is supposed to 

Signs of the Weather. 

At Hauxley, on the Northumbrian coast south from Wark- 
worth, bad weather is portended when the white wall of Alnwick 
Park, which lies at a considerable distance northwards, is very 
distinct to the view. The sounds of the sea foretell bad weather 
a night or two before, and the blast comes out of the direction 

* North Shields. 


whence the noise arises, although when first heard the wind 
may not be in that quarter. 

" Mar Fire," or " Sea Mare," is spoken of by the Hauxley 
fishermen. On some nights there is a " vast o' fire " of this 
sort before bad weather. There are also what are called by 
them "greasy spots," or smooth-looking spaces, dappling the 
brine all over. — M. H. Dand. 

When the water breaks white between the land and Holy 
Island it is the sign of a blast from the east. — Ibid. 

" From Mountain to Mile." 
Spoken of two farm places near Glanton. 

Debdon Dirt. 

Tlio coal at Debdon Colliery, which adjoins Rimside Moor, 
abovo Rothbury, was so inferior that it was stigmatised as 
" Debdon Dirt." It is now disused. 


The lordship of Wark, in Tynedale, was held by the Kings of 
Scotland for a long period as a fief from the English Kings till 
Edward I. made the disrupture. There are still portions of the 
banks of the Tyne called Scotland, e.g. below Haydon Bridge, 
at Allerwash. On the north side of South Tyne England is 
pointed out, and Scotland on the south of the river, as still 
preserving the distinction. 

The IIkiuIiANDs. 

The Highlands at Wooler is often the name given to tho 
Cheviot raii'T. 


Like the Cobbler in the West is the Carter in the East. 

The Cobbler is one of the Arroehar Hills at the head of 
Loch Long, Argyleshire; Carter Fell is a prominent member of 
the Cheviot Hills, whence the rivers Reed and Jed arise. 

Cutty Soams. 

Cutty Soams was a coal-pit Bogle, a sort of Brownie, whose 
disposition was purely mischievous, but he condescended 
sometimes to do good in an indirect way. He would occa- 
sionally bounce upon and thrash soundly some unpopular over- 
man or deputy viewer ; but his special business and delight was 
to cut the traces or " soams " by which the poor little assistant 
putters (sometimes girls) used then to be yoked to the wooden 
trams underground. It was no uncommon tiling in the morn- 
ing, when the men went down to work, for them to find that 
Cutty Soams had been busy during the night, and that every 
pair of rope-traces in the colliery had been cut to pieces. By 
many he was supposed to be the ghost of one of the poor fellows 
who had been killed in the pit at one time or other, and who 
came to warn his old marrows * of some misfortune that was 
going to happen. At Callington Pit, which was more particu- 
larly haunted, suspicion fell upon one of the deputies named 
Nelson, and soon after two men, the under- viewer and the over- 
man, were precipitated to the bottom of the pit, owing to this 
man Nelson cutting the rope by which they descended, all but 
one strand. As a climax to this horrible catastrophe, the pit 
fired a few days afterwards, and tradition has it that Nelson 
was killed by the damp. Cutty Soams Colliery, as it had come 
to be nicknamed, never worked another day. — Monthly Chronicle, 
1887, pp. 269, 270. 

* l-'ellows. 


Shilbottle Blue Bonnet on Blue Cap. 

Of another Goblin, altogether a more sensible and indeed an 
honest and hard working Bogle, a writer in the Colliery Guardian 
of May 23rd, 1863, wrote as follows :— 

" The supernatural person in question was no other than a 
ghostly putter, and his name was Blue-cap. Sometimes the 
miners would perceive a light-blue flame flicker through the air 
and settle on a full coal-tub, which immediately moved towards 
the roily-way as though impelled by the sturdiest sinews in the 
working. Industrious Blue-cap required, and rightly, to be paid 
for his services, which he moderately rated as those of an ordi- 
nary average putter, therefore once a fortnight Blue-cap's wages 
were left for him in a solitary corner of the mine. If they were 
a farthing below his due, the indignant Blue-cap would not 
pocket a stiver ; if they were a farthing above his due, indignant 
Blue-cap left the surplus revenue where he found it." 

At Shilbottle Colliery, near Alnwick, Blue-cap was better 
known as Blue Bonnet. — Monthly Chronicle, p. 244. 

The following series has been kindly furnished by Captain 
It. G. Huggup, Gloster Hill, Warkworth, and consists both of 
Popular Sayings and Folklore. — J. H. 

" You are like the Piper o' Hexham." 

You are like the Piper o' Hexham ; he had only three tunes. 
The first was " Lang unkenned " ; the second, " Naebody 
kenned; " and the third, " He didna' ken hissel." 

This is said to an unmusical person. 

" Onco more round Jarrow Slake, and then I'll be done." 

This was used by a tailor while making a pair of breeches for 
a very stout gentleman. 


" That is going round by Newcastle to get to Shields." 

My father often used this saying to express disapproval of the 
method of doing some work. His aucestors having farmed in 
the neighbourhood of Bedlington for a long period, I think it is 
likely that he had picked it up in his early days from some one 
of his relations. 

" No good ever came out of Howick Hole." 

When a child I have often heard this proverb in Bamborough- 
shire. I think it refers to the S.E. gales which bring so much 
wet to this county. 

[This is already entered, but in a different form.] 

" It's all ower [all over] like Jack's weddin" 

I do not know if this is local, but I never heard it beyond the 

" Gannin' folks are aye gettin'." 

Those who travel much are always picking something up. 
" A ganging fit," &c, is the Scots form. 

" What has that to do with the price of coals ? " 

I have often heard this used in North Country ships during 
an argument on any subject. It means, " You are getting wide 
of the mark." 

" Yon can make a, kirk or a mill on't for me." 

That is, I have given you my advice, and you won't take it, 
so it is indifferent to mo what becomes of the project. 


" He neither said ' buff ' nor ' stye.' " 

This means, " He had not a word to say," a very common 
expression. I can offer no suggestion as to its origin. 

Only five years ago I had a cow that took milk-fever after 
calving. An elderly woman immediately asked if we had been 
careful to rub a pinch of salt along her back at the moment she 

I have seen a corpse laid out with a small plate of salt placed 
on the breast, and believe it to be usually done in Northumber- 

Seventy years or so ago it was a common practice among the 
Hauxley fishermen, when shipwrecks had been scarce, to shut 
up the cat in a cupboard. — M. H. Dand. 

The peasant women believe that the " black and white 
puddings" made at a pig-killing will certainly burst while 
boiling if the cook does not, when putting each string of 
puddings into the pot, mentally dedicate it to some one who is 
not present. This has nothing to do with the subsequent dis- 
posal of the delicacy. 

Our peasantry have, or had within my recollection, a curious 
superstition that if a pig was killed when Ihe moon was waning, 
the flesh would not take the salt. 

Dr. 0. Schrader, in his Prehistoric Antiquities of the Aryans, 
speaks of something analogous to this as being of most remote 
antiquity. — E. G. Huggup. 

Neat's Fire. 

In another communication Mr. Huggup says that his uncle, 
James Huggup, now deceased, gave him an account of the 
custom of using Neat's Fire to cure the hoose in cattle, a disease 
occasioned by worms in the throat. It was used every year in 
the district on the clayey lands south of the mouth of the 


Coquet, but long before his time. The farmers came to an 
arrangement as to the order in which they were to use it. The 
fire was kindled with some ceremony at a certain farm agreed 
upon, and the cattle were then shut up in the straw-barn, where 
the fire was kept up among them for some time ; after which 
a lighted brand was carried on to the next farm, where prepara- 
tions had been made for a similar proceeding. If it went out 
the virtue was gone, and that year would probably be looked 
forward to with dread of many deaths among the herd. When 
this clay land was undrained there would be much loss from 
worms in the throat in cattle, so that there is something to 
commend itself to a practical farmer in smoking the herd. 

For the process of making " Neat's Fire," or " Need Fire," 
see Mr. Denham's entry, ubi supra, " Need Fire." 



The Ribwort Plantain— Plantago lanceolata, L. 

Grateful to the traveller to leave the dusty pathway near a 
town, bared by public traffic of every green thing — for the 
same road stretching away through the less frequented country 
district; for those strips of verdure, that like the over-fresh- 
ened margin of a stream, line the wayside on either hand — so 
clean, so cooling and so grassy, while they lighten his move- 
ments over their elastic sod, cheer also the spirits, by the 
variety of their vegetative covering ; for nowhere is there a 
richer assemblage of country graces, beautiful anywhere, but 
nowhere more luxuriant and better looking than there, the 
ground being kept continually fertilized, and but sparingly 
cropped by flock or herd. There the gaudy dandelion first con- 
fesses how irresistible is the penetrative influence of opening 
spring ; there the demure daisy earliest unseals its rosy lips and 
laughs out in the sunshine ; there the speedwell sparkles — 
brightest organization of heaven's azure ; and there the 
buttercups speck like golden studs nature's emerald raiment. 

" Can Imagination boast, 
Amid his gay creation, hues like these ? " 

These spots are the favourite resort of the Ribwort Plaintain. 
Youngsters in search of flowers will likely refuse its black and 
apparently bloomlcss heads, a place among the almost indis- 


criminate ingredients of the spring posy ; and it is true that its 
napless sugar-loaf hat looks rather odd and unflowerlike beside 
the trimmer head-dresses of its more brilliant companions ; yet 
it cannot be said that amidst them it 

" Like a purple beech among the greens 
Looks out of place ; " 

for during the period of flowering — they are pretty objects — its 
circles of pale slender filaments and nodding anthers streaming 
around a dark centre, like the radiance about a saintly head, 
and particularly when sensitive to the aerial currents, they look 
like its feelers agitated by the breeze. The spike arises droop- 
ingly, black, and tapering to the point; but erects itself as the 
bloom wears off, and becomes quite cylindrical, and the colour 
progressively changes to brown, as if not sufficiently imbued 
with dye to withstand the sunlight ; this being the lighter shade 
of the interior surface of its fast expanding florets. There is 
some variety in the size and shape of the heads ; in the broader 
or narrower foliage ; and in the length and tint of its filaments 
and stamens. In moist mornings, the last, like those of grass, 
being easily detached, are sprinkled copiously over the shoes of 
such as tread the " dewy lawn." The heads sometimes become 
forked, or multiple ; sometimes entirely converted into leaves, 
with a new race of stems and heads originating from the centre ; 
or one leaf or more springs from the typically unclothed stalk. 
None of these are of modern discovery ; the older botanists 
knew all that we know of them ; and attempted their classifica- 
tion under names such as we might apply to them. 

Although the schoolboy may not admit its claims as a flower, 
yet in his estimation compared with it, what are " roses, 

violets " — 

" But toys 
For the smaller sort of boys, 
Or for greener damsels meant ? " 


for from its heads he obtains the weapons of a warfare that 
mimics " manly " might. Two little heroes challenge each 
other, and go and select an equal number of the toughest stems 
of ribwort they can meet with. One then holds out his stem, 
at which his opponent with another aims a deadly blow to 
behead it. Whether successful or not, he must in turn submit 
a stem with a head on it to the risk of the next stroke ; and 
thus by alternate attempts is the contest continued, until one of 
them lose all the heads of his flowers, in which case he also 
loses the fight. Both the game and the weapons are called 
Kemps. A hemp, as at present in use, is the struggle for the 
" land end " in the harvest field. 

" 'Twas on the left the harsher jar, 
Of sickles spoke commencing war, 

And anger mutter'd low ; 
The soldier saw with jealous glance, 
The blacksmith's ridge too far advance, 

And held that ridge a foe ; 
And bore away ; that action soon 
Like light'ning glanced along the boon, 
Till all, from side to side, was life, 
Resentment, bustle, rage and strife, 
And foot to foot the kempers join." 

Story's Harvest. 

But " kemp," sayeth Verstegan,* is a word of " noble 
descent ; " and in the olden time signified a champion, or 
knight skilled in feats of arms. 

" But on did come the kyng of Spayne 
With kempe3 many a one." 

Ballad of King Estmere. 

In Anglo-Saxon cempa is a soldier, campian to fight ; the Danish 
* Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, p. 233. 

VOL. II. 2 B 


kempe is a giant ; the Islandic hamper, a warrior. The Cimbri 
struck terror into their enemies, not less by their fighting quali- 
ties than by the name which these had stamped on them, for 
they were kem.pers, "the bravest of the brave".* The 
proudest title of the Cid was " the Compeador ; " our kemp or 
kemper in the Spanish idiom. " Compeador is a term hardly 
translatable into English, for our word ' champion,' to which it 
most readily answers, excites little of that proud triumphant 
feeling which thrills the Spanish bosom at the mention of the 
' Compeador.' " Sir James Kempt at Waterloo, and Dr. Van- 
derkemp, the African missionary, each in their respective fields 
of honour, vindicated their ancient lineage and name, f The 
Swedes call Plantago media kampar, from their word kampa, to 
contend or struggle. Plantago major is sometimes also our 
" kemps," perhaps the " kemp-seed" of Jamieson. In some parts 
of Scotland " Soldiers " is the Ribwort's name. In the pit-vil- 
lages around Newcastle, " Cock-fighters " is the term for the 
game; modified about Berwick to " Fightee-eocks." In Suffolk 
it is "Cocks" (Moor); "Fighting-cocks" in Northampton- 
shire, " many a time have I played at fighting-cocks with them" 
(C. W. Peach) ; " F'ghting-cocks " in the east of England (Hal- 
liwell); "Hardheads," in Lancashire (Brockett)4 It does 
not, however, appear to have been its celebrity in boyish diver- 
sions that has earned for it the title of " Herba martis," § for 
it fell under the warrior god's protection for another reason. 
For " Mizaldus and others, yea almost all astrology-physicians, 

* Percy's Ri-liques of Ancient Poetry, i. p. 373; and Ruddiman 
Sibbald's Glossary. 

t " Kemp, the surname of a man, that is, in old English, 
soldier." Ch.imbevlayne's Magna Britannia? Xotitia, p. 162. 

\ The English name has passed over into Ireland : it is " Cocks " 
in Arniagh ; " Cocks and Hens " in Waterford, 

§ Phrysins in J. fianhin's Hist. Plantarvm, in. p 505. 


hold this to bo an herb of Mars, because it cures the diseases of 
the head, which arc under the houses of Mars." " Neither," 
continues Culpepper, " is there hardly a martial disease but it 

It was once a custom in Berwickshire to practise divination 
by means of kemps. Two spikes were taken in full bloom, and 
being bereft of every appearance of blow, they were wrapt in a 
dock-leaf and put below a stone. One of them represented the 
lad, the other the lass. They were examined next morning, and 
if both spikes appeared in blossom, then there was to be " aye 
love between them twae :" il none, the "course of true love" 
was not " to run smooth." The appeal, however, generally 
ended as the parties wished, for since it is the rule in the inflo- 
rescence of spikes that the florets blow in succession, the being 
laid beneath a stone would have little influence in retarding 
their expansion if ready for development. A similar supersti- 
tion prevails in Northamptonshire: thus Clare in his Shepherd's 
Calendar, p. 49 : — 

" Now young girls whisper things of love, 
And from the old dame's hearing move ; 
Oft making ' love-knots ' in the shade, 
Of blue-green oat or wheaten blade ; 
Or, trying simple charms and spells 
Which rural superstition tells, 
They pull the little blossom threads, 
From out the knot-weeds button heads, 
And put the husk with many a smile, 
In their white bosoms for a while, — 
Then if they guess aright, the swain 
Their love's sweet fancies tries to gain ; 
'Tis said, that ere it lies an hour, 
'Twill blossom with a second flower, 
And from the bosom's handkerchief 
Bloom as it near had lost a leaf." 
2 h 2 


From Miss Baker's Northamptonshire Words and Phrases, i. 
p. 374, it appears that " knot- weed " in that county is applied 
indifferently to the three species of knap-weed, Centaurea 
cyanus, nigra, and scabiosa; all of which agree with ribwort 
in having hard heads or " knaps," which is Gerard's expression 
for the compact spike of the ribwort. Following on the knap- 
weed we can trace the superstition back again to the Borders ; 
for what is Eobert Story, the Northumbrian bard's " Flower of 
Love," in Guthrum the Dane, but Centaurea nigra. * Bertha, 
the Danish maiden, and secretly though vainly attached to him, 
is the instructress in the English language of Aymund, a Danish 
prince, wounded and taken prisoner. 

" This plant, of many branches on a stem 
And each branch crested with a purple gem 
Which, armed and plumed, like a warrior stands — 
We call a ' thistle.' This the tenderest hands 
May grasp, although its shape and colour strike 
As being to the others not unlike. 
It has no - name I wot of ; but, above 
The rest, it should be styled ' The flower of love ; ' 
For 'tis to it the wondrous spells belong, 
Which thus some bard has worked into a song. 

" Young Waddie, on a summer's eve, 

The maid he long had wooed, addressed : 
' See ! I these flowers of bloom bereave, 

And put them underneath my vest. 
The first shall bear thy name, 'tis meet; 

The other that of Edith Bain ! 
And won't the morning, love, be sweet, 

That sees one relic bud again ? ' 

* Story's Poetical Works, 336, 337. 


" They parted — as young lovers part, 

With many a last good night and kiss ; 
And each went home, with lightened heart, 

To dream a dream of love and bliss. 
Yet her heart was not happy quite ; 

She pondered on these flowerets twain ; 
And oft the maiden said, that night, 

O 1 which of them will bud again ? 

" Next morning to her cot he hied : 

' Come, guess on which the bloom's begun ? ' 
* I nothing care,' she archly cried, 

4 So Edith Bain's be not the one.' 
He caught her in his arms. ' We meet, 

Life-wedded by this token plain ! 
And is not love, the morning sweet, 

That sees the relic bud again 7 ' 

" The Maiden, having sung her simple lay, 
Two flowers selected ; cut the bloom away ; 
Then bade me place them ' underneath my vest ; ' 
To represent the two I loved the best. 
' I know,' she said, ' the favourite of the twain, 
But have a doubt that that will bud again.' " 

Nor are these the only mysterious properties of ribwort. It 
is introduced as a magical herb in a burlesque poem from the 
Bannatyne MSS., entitled " An interlude of the laying of ane 
Ghaist," the scene of which is in the vicinity of North Berwick. 
Thus runs the spell that bound him : — 

" Litill gaist, I conjur the, 
With lierie and larie, 
Bayth fra God, and Sanct Marie, 
First with ane fischis mouth, 
An syne with ane sowis towth, 
With ten pertaine tais, 
And nync knokis of windil strais, 


With three heids of curie doddy. ' 
And bid the ghaist turn in a body 
Then after this conjuratioun, 
The litill gaist will fall in sonn, 
And thair efter down lye, 
Cryand mercy piteously ; 
Then with your left heil sane, 
And it will never cum againe, 
As muckle as a mige amaist." 

The "Curie Doddy" is the head of the ribwort. In Moray- 
shire it is " Carl-Doddies " ; * in Banff and Aberdeen, " Carl- 
Dods." It is " Curl-Doddies " in Forfarshire, as I am in- 
formed by John Nevay, who has introduced it into his " Hymn 
to the Skylark" (Poems, p. 258) : 

" From yonder field where sits thy mate 

Among Curl-Doddies, clover red and white, 

I saw thee rise, thy soul elate 
With blest connubial love, 

Blithe warbling up the ethereal dome, 

Eight o'er thy grassy home." 

There are a plurality of plants claimants of the name. In Ber- 
wickshire and Roxburghshire the Scabiosa succisa and Knautia 
arvensis are " Curly-Doddies : " and likewise the rising crosier- 
headed fronds of the male fern ( Lastrea FilLv-mns) ; in Orkney 
natural clover bears the name ; and Curly Kale in the south of 
Scotland, f "Dod" is the reedmace (Typha latifolia) in the 

* Dr. Gordon's Flora of Moray, p 6. 

•f In the following passage from "Ane Brash of Wowing, by 
Clerk " (Sibbald's Chron. of Scottish Poetry, i. p. 370 ; Evergreen, 
ii. p. 19), it appears to be a synonym for clover : — 
" Quod he, my claver, my curie dody 
My hinny-sopps, my sweit possody, 
Be not owre bowstrous to your billy." 


north of England. " Curly" is obvious enough ; but " Carl " 
may have the masculine import which it had in the old language, 
and which still remains in such terms as Carl-cat, Carl-crab, Carl- 
hemp, Carl-tangle. The Irish Caoirle, a club, a reed ; diminu- 
tive, Caoirlin, also offers itself. Dr. Jamieson thinks " Poddie" 
signifies bald ; and hence we have the " Angus doddies, " cattle 
without horns. Then we have " Doddie," frizzled (doideach) in 
Gaelic ; and also " Dolde " in German, the top of a tree or 
plant. But the likelihood is that it is the same term as that 
applied on the Borders to round-topped hills. Thus we have 
Ilderton Dodd in the Cheviots; Duddo (Dodd, and A.S. hoe, 
a height) in North Durham , and also in the parish of Stanning- 
ton ; Doddington and its Dodd Well, Dodd House near Wal- 
lington, Dodd End in Alston parish, Dodbank near Whitfield, 
and Doddheap on Reed Water in Northumberland ; Belton 
Dodd and the Dodd Hill in the Lammermoors ; the Dodd near 
Hawick, and the Dodburn in Kirkton parish, Roxburghshire, 
not forgetting the " high Dodhead," and its redoubtable occu- 
pant of the " Riding Times," " Jamie Telfer." The family 
name of Dodd and Dodds originated among the Border hills.* 
We have an old English word dod to lop as a tree, which might 
be metaphorically applied to cowed cattle, to knob-headed 
flowers, and smooth hills of the conical form. In this sense it 
is only the truncated pyramidal heights of South Africa that 
can correctly be said to be dodded. 

In Fife the bairns make a plaything of the Curly Doddy, 
saying : 

" Curly Doddy, do ray biddin' 
Soop my house and shool my midden ". f 

• Brockie's Family Xaims of the Folks of Shields, p. 41. 
t Chamber*' Popular Rhymes, p. i'i. 


Those of Berwickshire form of the heads of Scabiosa succisa a 
horologe of a primitive sort. The head is twisted round a few 
times, and then left to recover its position. The number of 
circumvolutions is the true index to the time of day. 

Moreover, this kind of plantain, like others of the genus, is 

" Full of great -virtues, and for medicine good." 

As a healing herb it ranks with P. major, which as an applica- 
tion " to stop the bleeding of wounds and to consolidate their 
lips," is renowned in Berwickshire as the " Healin' Leaf," or 
" Healin' Blade." The Highlanders and Irish call the ribwort 
Slan-lus, i.e. healing-herb, and apply it bruised to fresh 
wounds.* The Irish reapers greatly vaunt its merits for 
sickle-hurts. It is thus Shenstone's 

" Plantain ribb'd, that heals the reaper's wound." 

In Ayrshire P. major is thus employed; in Galloway it is 
P. lanceolate.. From its being a specific against poison, Shake- 
speare's "plantain leaf" appears to have been the greater 
plantain ; but Dr. Drummond makes it the ribwort. 

Rom " Your plantain leaf is excellent tor that." 
Ben. " For what, I pray thee ? " 
Rom. " For your broken shin." I 

" When this and other herbs were in repute as vulneraries, the 
principles which should regulate the treatment of wounds were 

* Another Gaelic name equivalent to the above is Lus-an-t- 

■f In Yorkshire, as I am informed, it is believed that the 
plantain leaf may be beneficially applied fresh to any hurt in the leg. 


Uttle understood. The supposed virtues of the herb, however, 
produced this good effect ; it was firmly bound over the cut so 
that the raw edges came in contact, adhesion followed, and the 
wound healed nearly as well as though the plant had not been 
used. The real secret of the cure was the application of the lips 
of the wound to each other ; but this was not understood, and 
the supposed vulnerary bore off the credit." * The applica- 
tion of plantain to check the flow of blood is mentioned by both 
Dioscorides and Pliny, and subsequent herborists only copy 
what they promulgated. 

Dioscorides recommended his plaintain (arnoglossos) for 
hydrophobia ; and in the last century we find the same thing 
reported of ribwort as a novelty : " Eibworth, or rib-grass, was 
given at Roscrea in Ireland in 1 796 with success ; a table- 
spoonful of the juice (the quantity given to a dog) every 
morning and evening for a week, and a poultice of the bruised 
rib-grass applied to the wound until it healed. This saved the 
life and cured one person out of seven who were bit by a mad 
terrier; all the others died although they had immediate 
recourse to sea-bathing." f 

P. lanceolata was cultivated more frequently formerly than 
at present, combined with a grass crop. It affords an early bite, 
but is not much relished by stock. " On poorer and drier soils 
it is said to answer well for sheep, being much used on the hills 
in Wales, where its roots spread and occasion a degree of 
fertility in districts which would otherwise be little better than 
bare rock." " Botanists," continues the writer of British 
Husbandry, i. p. 512, "differ in their estimation of its qualities, 
for by some it is said to be injurious to cows, and by others it is 
asserted that the richness of the milk in the celebrated dairies of 

* Drummond's First Steps to Botany, p. 246. 
f Daniol's Rural Sports, i. p. 177. 


the Alps is attributable to this grass and the common lady's 
mantle, or Alchemilla vulgaris. When sown along with 
clover* it is also said to prevent cattle from being hoven." 
However, the " Adelgras " or " Riz," esteemed the second 
best milk-producing Alpine plant, in the wild-hay of the Alps 
(Meum mutellina being the first) is a different species, Plantago 
alpina. It grows at 6,000 feet and upwards, f By experi- 
ment the composition of 100 parts of the ash of Plantago 
lanceolata collected on the Bradford clay, a calcareous loam, 
consisted of 2 - 37 silica, 7 - 08 phosphoric acid, 6*11 sulphuric 
acid, 1440 carbonic acid, 19"10 lime, 351 magnesia, 090 
peroxide of iron, 33-26 potash, 4 - 53 chloride of potassium, 8 - 80, 
chloride of sodium. J 

The Icelanders, who call P. lanceolata, " Selegrese," use it 
for food. § 

Ribwort is eagerly sought after for its pollen by the hive- 
bees, in some localities, about the 19th of July. The bees pull 
down the long filaments with their forelegs, pass the anthers 
between their mandibles, by which means the pollen is scattered 
upon the face and body, whence it is speedily transferred to 
the hinder legs. They wheel round the flower with wonderful 
celerity, and then hasten on. The pollen thus collected is of a 
pale yellow or whitish tint. 

I once met with a small oblong gall on the stalks from which 
I obtained a small black weevil of a corresponding shape, 
Mecinus semieylindricus. This, I believe, is the first time its 

* Cheshire Report, p. 181. 

\ Berlepsch on the Alps ; or Sketches of Life and Nature in the 
Mountains, p. 350. 

| J. T. Way and G. H. Ogston in Journal of Royal l Agric. 
Soc, xi. p. 537. 

§ Van Trail's Letters on Iceland, p. 108. 


transformation has been noted. The upper surface of the leaves 
of both this and P. major are mined by the maggots of a small 
two-winged fly, apparently, for they did not hatch with me, 
Phytomyza nigricornis of Macquart, the same species that is so 
abundant in the leaves of sow-thistles and Cinerarias. The 
larva of a small moth, Gracilaria tringipennella of Zeller, mines 
the upper surface of the leaves of the P. lanceolata ; one brood 
begins to feed in October, changing to pupa in May ; the other 
brood feeds up in June and July. * The caterpillars of three 
butterflies, Melitcea Cinxia, M. Athalia and Steropes Paniscus 
also feed on the leaves ; and those of various other Lepidoptera 
select by preference this and other plantains, t 

That distinguished scholar, the late Dr. Adams of Banchory 
(in the Appendix to Murray's Northern Flora), considered that 
P. lanceolata was one of the species of Arnoglossos mentioned 
by Dioscorides, P. major being the other ; and of this opinion 
also was William Turner, the early English botanist; both 
doubtless following Macer. This Macer, not the iEmilius 
Macer quoted by Ovid, but it is said Odo, or Odobonus, a 
physician of later times in the guise of his name {%), is the 
first to bring forward, in his leonine verses, the specific name 
lanceolata, which alludes to the lance-shaped form of the 
leaves : — 

" Altera vero minor, quam vulgo lanccolatam 
Dicunt, quod foliis, ut lancea, surgat acutis." 

Lanceolata continued to be the officinal term, while Lanceola 
became the common one, and exists to the present clay as the 
Lanceole of the French, and the Italian Lancivola. The lesser 
plantains, from the five ribs in the leaf, were called Pentaneuros 

* Stainton's Tineimt, p. 198. 

f Stainton's Manual of British Butterflies and Moths. 

\ Pultoney's Sketches, i. p. 32. 


or Quinquinervia, to distinguish them from P. major, which 
" propt by her seven nerves," was the Heptapleuros or Septi- 
nervia. It is doubtful whether the English name Rib-wort or 
Rib-grass is modelled on this. Coles, indeed, in the Art of 
Simpling, London, 1657, p. 30, says, " Plantane is called Rib- 
wort because every leafe hath five strings somewhat like ribs." 
In Somner's Anglo-Saxon Lexicon Ribbe is rendered Cyno- 
glossus, which is an old alias of the plantain. William Turner, 
Names of Herbes, London, 1548, thus notices it : " Plantago 
is called in Greke Arnoglossus. There are two sorts of Planta- 
ginis; the one is called in Englishe alone Plantain or waybread 
or great waybread. The other is called Rybwurte or Rybe- 
grass, and of some Herbaries Lanceolata." In the second part 
of his Herball, he says it was called " in many places rybgrasse ; " 
whence it appears that the name had been well established in 
his time. John Bauhin accounts for the name in saying that 
the Germans called it Rosripp, from the resemblance of the leaf 
to a horse-rib ; and by a similar analogy the Dutch name is 
Hontsribbe, i.e. Dog-rib. In Donegal it is called RuppU-grass ; 
Ripple-grass in Ettrick Forest and Galloway ; and Riplin-grass 
in Lanarkshire ; manifest corruptions of Rib grass. The Welsh 
have for it a superfluity of unpronounceable names. They call 
it Llyriad Llwynhidydd, Llwyn y neidr, Traeturiad y bugeilydd, 
Ysgelynllys, Astyllenlys, Pennau'r gioyr. The last may represent 
our " Curly- Doddy ; " from pennaicr, an ornament worn on 
the head, and gwyr, crooked, or it may be a contraction for 
gwyran, hay, reed, grass. They call it and P. major, Sowdl 
Crist, Christ's heel. 

There are few spots in Great Britain where the ribwort does 
not prevail. Dr. Macgillivray noticed it on the shores of 
Harris*; it, as well as a small variety, is common in Shet- 

* Prize Essays and Trans. Highland Soc, vii. p, 104. 


land.* Mr. H. C. Watson found it on the north coast of 
Caithness and Sutherland, and observed it at the height of five 
hundred yards in Forfarshire, t Its range in Yorkshire is 
up to seven hundred yards, ascending to near the peaks of the 
highest hills. \ It is widely diffused throughout Europe ; 
Pallas found Plantago media and P. lanceolata on the peninsula 
of Kerteh, near Arabat, on the Sea of Azof.§ A variety of 
it, P. Azorica, Hochst., grows in the Azores. || It crosses 
the Atlantic, and is one of the plants in North America that 
descend to the sea-coast in the arctic zone. 1T The European 
plantains, or species similar to them, occur also at Sitka, on the 
western coast of America, in 57° north latitude, where we find a 
vegetation corresponding with that of western Europe under the 
same parallels. ** 

* Edmonston's Flora, p. 17. 

t Murray's Northern Flora, p. 97. 

t Baker's North Yorkshire, p. 271. 

§ Travels, ii. p, 271. 

|| Ray Society Reports and Papers on Botany, 1849, p. 389. 

f Meyen's Geography of Plants, p. 220. 

•* Ibid., p. 203. 


[Niimcs of tomtit or other places, when not accompanied by a descriptive 
note, are place-names which occur in rhymes or proverbs.] 

Adder stones, 43 

Agnes (St.) Day, 282 283 

Alhuldco, a class of spirits, 79 

All Fool's Day, 31 

All Soul's Day, 26 

Allanbank, Berwickshire, apparition 
at, 178 

Alls, the four, popular saying, 37 

Alnwick, barring out at, 346 

coban tree at, 227 

games at, 351 

leaping the well, 40 

Alwinton, sacred well at, 156 

Amber bead, worn as amulet, 83 

Amulet, amber bead, 83 

crooked sixpence, 72 

Anderson Place, Newcastle, 61 

Animal sacrifice at Christian burials, 

Animals, living, applied to the mouth 
to suck out the evil spirit, 293 

Apparitions, 163-167 

of Margaret Selby, 260- 


Applety pie, rhyme, 36 

Apron full of stones at Hedgley, 216 

Arrnn Isles, beliefs of, 210 

Arrows, elf, 30 

Arthur (King), legends of, 125-129 

Arthur's Seat, near Edinburgh, 130 

Arvil dinners, 39 

Ash, seed of, used to cure ear ache, 294 

Ash, mountain, witchwood 32H 

ABh-keys, preservative against witch- 
craft, 30 

Ashlcaf charms, 70-71 

divination by, 282 

Assize, maiden, and white gloves, 66 

Asthma, amber Ijc:u1 worn as cure for, 

Avon, abode of a spirit. 12 

Babes in the wood, song, 27-28 
Bachelors, 45 
Bad-handed, 274 
Baking custom, 45 
Ball-beggars, a class of spirits, 78 
Ball playing at Easter, 32 
Ball-playing rhyme, 351 
Ballads, 51 

Balloon, alarm of peasants at, 276 
Bamborongh, fairy treasures at, 146 
Bamborough Castle legend, 331 
Banshee superstition, 79, 187 
Barring out, 6-8 

at Newcastle, 344-346 

Bargaining rhyme, 75 

Baron, title of, used in the north, 1«5 

Barguests, a class of spirits, 77 

Barrasford, standing stones at, 217 

Basuto custom, 131 

Bathing rhyme, 18 

Battling stones, 69 

for weaving, 246 

Bay, oil de, cure for fairy, 141 

Beamish, king's sunt at, 130 

Beans at funerals, 37 

Beatmont, a measure containing a 

quarter of a peck, 303 
Beaumont River, abode of fairies, 144 
Bede (St.), sacred well of, 156 
Bees, witch in shape of, 299, 319 

bring luck, 213 

warned of owner's death, 213 

Bell horses, 74 

Bellasay, coach horses, in nursery 

rhyme, 69 
Bellistcr, the grey man of, 183-1*7 

Castle, 'lSX-is-.i 

Bells of Brinkburn, 132-133, 134 
Beltane, 92 

Belts, to preserve from fairies, 140 
Benton, sacred well at. 156 



Berwickshire customs, 348 

Herrit's dyke, 34 

Betty Martin, proverbial saying, 17 
Bingfield, sacred well at, 155 
Birthday rhymes, 102 
Birtley, devil's stone at, 2 1 6 

sacred well at, 1 55, 341 

sacred fire at, 342 

witches of, 333 

" Black and white is my delight " 

rhyme, 53 
Black bugs, a class of spirits, 78 
Black cats, lucky for spinsters, 73 
Black dogs, a class of spirits, 77 
Black hair and red beard, objections 

to, 24 
Black man, a class of spirits, 79 
Black object, gift of, to the devil, 69 
Black wool used in folk medicine, 294 
Blackluggie, a small vessel made of 

staves, 82 
Blane's, St., seat, 131 
Blankets, superstition concerning, 48 
Blenkinsop family, tradition of, 185- 

Blindness, 48 

Blood at the nose, sign of death, 272 
Blood of witch, drawn by pricking, 

86, 317, 319, 324, 338 
Bloody bones, a class of spirits, 77 
Bloody stones, 60 
Blue cap, a goblin, 363 
Bodach Gartin, an ancestral spirit, 

Boggarts, a class of spirits, 78 
Boggleboes, a class of spirits, 79 
Boggles, a class of spirit, 77 

place names derived from, 


Boggy-boes, a class of spirits, 77 
Bogies, a class of spirits, 79, 86 
Bogle-houses, Lowick Forest, 278 
Boguests, a class of spirits, 78 
Bollets, a class of spirits, 79 
Bolls, a class of spirits, 78 
Bomen, a class of spirits, 78 
Bone of giant cow at Mulgrave 

Castle, 29 
Bonelesses, a class of spirits, 78 
Bonfires, midsumtrer, 342 
" Bonny lass, canny lass, will ta be 

mine," rhyme, 53 
Books, notes of possession in, 339 

rhymes, 18 

Border warfare, 238-239 
Borewell, near Bingfield, 155 
Borran, cry of the Irish fairies, 84 

Bosworth man, name for " knave " in 
cards, 38 

Bowes, Yorkshire, arvel dinner at, 40 

corpse usages at, 73 

need fire at, 50 

Bows and arrows, 46 

Boy-bishop, 7 

Brag, a sprite, 78, 159, 161 

Brandy ball, game of, 351 

Bread-making custom. 45 

Breaknecks, a class of spirits, 77 

Brechau (Dudley), ghost of, 165 

Brehou, stone chair of the, 131 

" Brenky my nutty cock," game rhyme, 
~Bride-cake, divination by, 281 

Bridle, enchanted, need by witches, 
301, 304, 307 

Brimstone pan, 49 

Brinkburn, bells of, 132, 133 

fairies at, 143 

legend of, 121-124, 257- 


British camp, road to, attributed to the 
fairies, 149 

earthwork near GunnasLon, 203 

Bromley Lake, Northumberland, buried 

treasure in, 254 
Brown man of the moor, ghost story, 

Brownies, a class of spirits, 77 

— ■ place names derived from, 

Brown-men, a class of spirits, 79 
Buckies, a class of spirits, 78 
Bugbears, a class of spirits, 77 
Buggaboes, a class of spirits, 78 
Bugs, a class of spirits, 78 
Building legend, 243-244, 353 
Bulmer stone, Darlington, 18 
Burial, beans used at, 37 

virgin garlands at, 33 

on north side of churches, 


at cross roads, 63-64 

customs, 20-21 

Butchers as jurymen, objected to, 

Bute, dreaming tree in, 286 
Butter, fairy, 30, 111, 13S 
Butterfly, red, killing of, 325 
Button rhyme, 46 
Bygoms, a class of spirits, 78 
Buzz, a saying indicating witchcraft, 

Caddies, a class of spirits, 78 



Cairn-a-vain, a pile of stones, 210 

Cakes, fairy, 30, 113 

Calcars, a class of spirits, 77 

Calgarth skull, 19 

Callaley, camp on Castle Hill, 242 

rhymes, 352-355 

legend of, 243 

Callan mountains, 211 

Cambuskenneth Abbey, bells of, 133 

Candle bark, domestic utensil, 32 

Capon trees, 226-234 

Darling Sunday, 282 

Cat, shut up at shipwrecks, 365 

Cats and corpses, 74 

Cats, black, rhymes, 73 

Cattle, cure for bewitched, 68 

Cattle disease, 66 ; charm for, 50 

Cauldron, fairy, 30, 112 

Cavern legends, 217-220 

Celts, stone implements, known as 

holystones, 44 
Centaurs, a class of spirits, 77 
Changeling, fairy, 78, 137, 138 
Chapbook legend, 45 
Chappie, a family apparition, 177 
Charm prayers, 11-13 
Charms, 70-71, 291 

written, 103-106 

Chase, rhymes and proverbs on, 1C7- 

Cheese, digestive powers of, 2 1 5 
Cheese, baby's, divination by, 281 
Cheese, eating of, by witch, 301, 302 
Cheese-well at Minchmuir, 152 
Chcrtsey, devil's stone near, 202 
Cheshire, customs of, 7 
Chests, oak, for keeping flour, etc., 

Children, future life betoken by first 

month, 75 
Child's first visit, customs at, 25 
Chillingham, Hnrlstone at, 217 
Chirton, near North Shields, haunted 

by an apparition in silk, 177 
Chittafaces, a class of spirits, 79 
Chollerton, sacred wells at, 1 55 
Christening custom, 42 
Christmas observances, 25-26 

■ rhymes, 37, 90-96 

— Bay, ghosts not seen on, 76, 

Church, chancel, funeral feasts set 

forth in, 40 

clock, custom, 50 ; omen, 51 

cold never taken nt, 72 

• marriage custom, 1 1 

■ porch, divination in, 284 

vol. n. 2 c 

Church dancing in, at Christmas, 95 
north side, bnrials on, 38 ; west 

side, antipathy to, 38 
Churching of women after childbirth, 

Churchyard, visit to, for divination, 

Churning, witchcraft in, 326 
Clabbernapjiers, a cla«s of spirits, 79 
Cleveland, local rhyme, 1 4 
Clonfert Mulloe, Queen's County, 

stone chair at, 131 
Clothes changed inside out to avoid the 

fairies, 8S 
Clothes, home spun, 69 
Clover, four- necked, preventive against 

fairies, 142 
Cluricauns, a class of spirit", 79 
Coach, apparition of, a sign of death, 

Coban trees, 226-234, 2*6 
Cock, crowing of, at night, prognosti- 
cation of death, -'71 
Cockles, harbingers of bad weather, 21 
Cocklety bread, rhyme, 36 
Cock's stride, 99 
Coffin, stone, at Ncwminster, legend 

connected with, 2 1 7 
Coldingham Abbey, bells of, 133 
Collup Monday, .'Mil 
Colpixy heads! 30, 111, 113 
Colt-pixies, a class of ppirits, 7« 
Conune's tomb. Callan Mountain. 210 
Coniscliffc (High), near Darlington, 

burials nt, 3x 

murria^n custom, 11 

Contempt, to bit" the glove or nail, a 

sign of, Oil 
Contract, ancient rhyme to accompany, 

Cor. the giant, 29 
Corbie's stone. 221 
CorbrUige, tradition concerning, 62 
Cork, Karl of, name for "jkc of 

diamonds," US 
Cornwall, holed stones in, 265-266 
Corpse, exposure of, at the funeral 

feast, 39 

usages, 73 

Corpse lights, a class of spirits, 79 
Coupland Castle, white lady at, 167 
Covin trees, 226-231, 2*7 
Cow-milking superstition, S3 
Cowics, a class of spirits, 79 
Cows, holy stone used to protect, 43 
Cradle Knowcs, the abode of fairies, 




Cradle, not sold under distraint, 40 
Cradle rocking superstition, 49 
Cross roads, burial at, 63-64 
Cuckoo, first hearing of, 6 
Cuddie's cove, 163 
Cummer, a gossip, 82 
Cumberland, customs of, 7, 8, 14, 91 
divination practices in, 

Cups, fairy, 30,112 
Curing stones, 223-225 
Curie doddy, the ribwort, 374-376 
Curse of Scotland, name for " nine of 

diamonds," 38 
Cursingwell at Ffynnon Elian, 153 
Curwen's card, name for " knave of 

clubs," 38 
Cushions, midsummer, 1 
Cnthbert (St.), tradition of, 163 
Cutties, a class of spirits, 80 
Cutty soams, 362 

Dancing in churches at Christmas, 

Darlington, Bulmer stone at, 18 
Days, rhymes on the, 102 
Death customs and beliefs, 59 
Death-hearses, a class of spirits, 78 
Dead, excessive grief for, 58 

touching the, 59 

Denton Hall, haunted by an apparition 

in silk, 177 
Denwick, games at, 361 
Derwentwater family, 193-195 
Devonshire fairies, saying of, 85 
Devil, invocation of the, 275-278 

selling oneself to, 67-68 

passing bell, 93 

Devil's cauldron, in Bute, 2S6 
Devil's stone, 216-217 

Dewsbury, Yorkshire, bell ringing at, 

Dick-a-Tuesdays, a class of spirits, 77 
Dill, a protection from witchcraft, 81 
Dirt not swept out of the house on 

New Year's Day, 340 
Disease known as farye, 140-141 

transference of, to animal, 322 

Dish, breaking of, prognostication 

trom, 272 
Ditchant, sacred well at, 167 
Divinations, 278-288 
Dobbies, a class of spirits, 77 
Docken, or nettle rhymes, 71 
Dodd in place names, 375 
Dog, appearance of a spirit as, 253 

Dog, bnrial of, with owner, 21 

Dogs howling a death omen, 65, 270, 

Domestic utensils, see " Battling 

Stones," "Candle-bark," "Chests," 

" Quern. " " Sleek Stones, " 

" Trenchers " 
Domestic sprite, 172 
Dopple-gangers, a class of spirits, 79 
Dorsetshire, divination in, 279 
Doubles, a class of spirits, 79 
Drake-stone, Harbottle, 256-257 
Draw bucket of water, game, 36 
Dreams, as warning of death, 269 
Dress, male and female, interchange 

of, 3 

witches', 320 

Driffield, Roundhead rhyme at. 76 
Drophandkerchief, game of, 351 
Dropsy, amber-bead worn as cure 

for, 83 
Druids lapful, a stone at Yevering, 

Dadmen, a class of spirits, 79 
Dunnies, a class of spirits, 79, 157 
Dunstanborongh Castle legend, 123 
Durham customs, 2, 3, 4, 7,,,14,'i21, 


divination practices in, 289, 


-witchcraft in, 332, 333 

- see " Gainford," " Gates- 

head " 
Dnst caused by fairies, 88 
Dwafs, a class of spirits, 78 
Dykes, 34 

Earache, cure of, 294 
East, bowing to the, 41 
Easter Sunday superstition, 24 
Eating, divination after, 280 
Edeedsbrig, black devil of, 277 
Edlingham, witchcraft at, 334 
Eelin's hole, a fairy cavern, 145, 219 
Fgg presentation to child on first visit, 

Egg-setting formulae, 274 
Eggs, eating of, to excess, 215 
Eggshells, witches riding on, 299, 301 
Eglingham, witchcraft at, 324 

petting stone at, 213 

Elder tree, nsed to prevent witchcraft, 

Elf, place names derived from, 78 
Elf-arrow head boiled to cure madness, 




Elf hills, 143 

Elf shot*, 30, 112, 113 

Elf-fireB, a class of spirits, 78 

Elf lucks, 30 

Klsdon feast, 356 

Elves, a class of spirits, 78 

Elwin, river, abode of fairies, 144 

Eston Knab, local rhyme, 14 

Ethel's (Kirjg) chair, a stone, 130 

Evil eye, 274 

Eye twitching, sign of life, 275 

Eye well, near Longwitton, 156 

Eyebrows, meeting, sign of witches, 

Eyes, fairy ointment for the, 138 

l'ace, rhymes connected with, 36 
Fairies, 30, 79, 110-115 

buried at Brinkburn, 134 

cry of the, 84 

cnps, 43 

legends, 136-151 

place names derived from, 79 

Fairings, rhyming formula used ut, 9 
Fairy, as a disease, 140-141 

rhymes relating to, 81, 84, 85, 86 

Family apparitions, 183-188 

Family descent, traced to river god, 

Family legends, 44, 85 
Fantasms, a class of spirits, 77 
Farmin (St.), well dedicated to, 33 
Fates, a class of spirits, 79 
Fauns, a class of spirits, 77 
Fawn, a race of gipsies, 86 
Fays, a class of spirits, 78 
Feasts of dedication, 3-4 
Feet first, persons born, 274 
Fenton, witchcraft at, 325 
Festivals at sacred wells, 155-157 
Fetches, a class of spirits, 77 
Fiends, a class of spirits, 78 
Fig sue, a customary Good Friday 

dish, 9 
Finger nail superstition, 24 
Finger superstitions, 24 
Fingers, fairy, 30, 113 
Fire, circle of, to prevent withcraft, 

Fire, elf, 30, 113 
Fire for cattle disease, 365-366 
Fire, not put out on New Year's Day, 

Fire superstitions at Christmas, 25 
Fire-drakes, a class of spirits, 77 

First-foot, 340; female unlncky, 24, 

26 ; male lucky, 26 
Fish and ring, Btory of, 44 
Flackett, a flask or wood bottle, 303 
Flax, fairy, 113 

Flayboggarts, a class of spirits, 78 
Flint implements attributed to the 

fairies, 112, 113 
Flodden, king's seat at, 130 
Flowers, wells dressed with, 155 
Folkmoots, 130, 131 j inauguration 

stones, 150 
Food left for fairies, 143 
Food, magical, produced by witches, 

Food, eating of, power by, in witch- 
craft, 301 
Food peculiar to certain seasons, 28 
Footstep, fairy, on stone, 160 
Forefinger of right hand considered to 

be venomous, 24 
Fortification of towns on the borders, 

Fortune telling, 298 
Fox, rhymes on the, 107 
Foxglove, a fairy flower, 30, 113, 149 
Freiths, a class of spirits, 78 
Friar's lanthorn, a class of spirits, 78 
Friday, unluck of, 343-344 

witches' attitude to, 84 

Frog, living, used to cure thrush, 293 
Fruit tree not to be topped with a 

saw, 29 
Fugoe Hole, Land's End, 220 
Funeral cakes, 54 

eustoms, 58 

feast, 39 

hymn, 52 

procession, prognostication 

from first person met by, 49 ; honour 

to, by passers by, :19 
see " Burial " 

Furrows of the plough twisted to avoid 
the fairies, 146 

Gabriel- hounds, a class of spirits, 79 
Gainford, co. Durham, ridiDg the stang 

at, 4-5 
Gall bladder, superstitious belief con- 
cerning, 72 
Gallybeggars, a class of spirits, 78 
Gallytrots, a class of spirits, 78 
Games, children's, 36, 52, 351 

with the ribwort plantain, 368 

Gant, a village fair or wake, 3 



Garlands, virgin, 33 

rush bearer's, 33 

Garter, divination by, 279-280 

, used in charms, 291-295 

red, charm for rheumatics, 48 

Gateshead, pit villages near, riding 
the stang at, 5-6 

Gaudy Bay at, 6 

witchcraft at, 338 

Gaudy day, 6 

Gelt, local rhyme, 14 
Gholes, a class of spirits. 78 
Ghosts, 165 

laying of, by ribwort, 373 

Giant traditions, 29, 78 
Gilsland wells, 156 
Gipsies at Wooler, 349 

sayings connected with, 84, 86 

Gipsy story, 168-169 

Glanton, sacred well at, 352 

Glove, to bite the, a token of contempt, 

Glowworm, fairy lanthorn, 88, 114 
Gnomes, a class of spirits, 79 
Goats, good luck from, 75 
Goblin, a class of spirits, 78 

place names derived from, 78 " 

Gold objects discovered, 209 
Good Friday customs, 9 

rhyme, 18 

superstitions, 24 

Goodman, the head of the house, 31 
Gordon (Jean), death of, 168-169 
Grace card, name for " six of hearts," 

Grants, a class of spirits, 79 
Gray-man of Bellister, 183-187 
Greata, river, snperstitious practice at, 

Greyhound, witch in shape of, 299 
Gringes, a class of spirits, 78 
Groats, fairy, 111, 114 
Guests, a class of spirits, 78 
Guisarding rhymes, 214, 347-348 
Guisers, harvest, 3 
Gun- firing superstition, 72 
Gunnarton, money hill near, 203 
Guy Fawkes rhymes, 15-16 
Guy of Warwick, dragon slain bv, 


Hagberry, the bird cherry, 329 
Hagmena, rhyme, 95 
Hags, a class of spirits, 77 
place name derived from, 77 

Hair cut from the neck for charms, 

294, 297 
Hair not cut on Friday, 343 

matted, fairy locks, 112, 113 

used by witches, 314 

colour of, superstition as to, 24 

Halliwell's Nursery Rhymes, 27 
Hallowe'en, witches seen on, 82 
Haltwhistle, stone near, 204 
Hamilton, local rhymg, 14 
Handsel Monday, 90 

Hanging stone, tradition, 120 

Harbottle, Northumberland, drake- 
stone, 256-257 

Harden Burn river, abode of fairies, 

Hare, apparition in the form of, 164 

witch in shape of, 299, 301, 328 

proverbs on the, 108 

Harehope Hill, fairies on, 143 
Harry, Old, name for the devil, 276 
Hartburn, witchcraft at, 337 
Harvest home, 2-3 

Hawking, rhymes and proverbs on, 

Hay harvest rhyme, 20 
Hazelrigg Dunnie, a sprite, 157-159, 

Hazelrigg Dunny, a ghost story, 79 
Heart stuck with pins, core for witch- 
craft, 68, 327 
Heather chieftain, 357 
Heckley Fence, proverbial saying con- 
nected with, 65 
Hedgehogs, urchins, 57 
Hedley Kow, a ghost story, 78 
Hellhounds, a class of spirits, 79 
Hellwains, a class of spirits, 77 
Hempseed divination, 278 
Hen, white, apparition of, 193 
Herb-pudding, eating of, in Passion 

Week, 32 
Herrit's dyke, 34 
Hexham, plague stone at, 212 
Heytherrie Hole, 219 
Hide, used for burying treasure, 255 

burial in, 256 

Hills, fairy, 30, 112 
Hob-and-lanthorns, a class of spirits, 

Hob Collingwood, name for "four of 

hearts," 38 
Hobbits, a class of spirits, 79 
Hobby-Ian thorns, a class of spirits, 77 
Hobcross, place names derived from, 78 
Hobgoblins, a class of spirits, 77, 79 
Hobhoulards, a class of spirits, 77 



Hob's Flow, 356 

Hob-thrushes, a class of spirits, 78 

Hob-thrust, place name derived from, 

a class of spirits, 77 

Hob Thrush's Mill, 355 

Hodge-pochers, a class of spirits, 78 

Hogmanay, rhyme, 95, 96 

Holed stones, 265-266 

• charm to prevent witch- 
craft, 325 

Holly, he and she, divination by, 

Holy water used in charming, 293 

Holy stones, 41, 43 

Hoodhill, local rhyme, 1 4 

Hoppings, village, 3 

Horuie holes, game of, 351 

Horns, fairy, 114 

Horse, offering of, to the church at 
death of owner. 21 

hair from the tail becomes an 

eel. 29 

holy stone used to protect, 43 

witch in shape of, 301 

Sower of seeing spirits by, 171 
oes, 62, 212 

cure of distemper by burning, 

Hounam church bell, falling of, 134 
Houudwood, Berwickshire, a family 

apparition at, 177 
House charm, 41 
Housestoads, fairies at, 144 
Hud, the city of, Aran Islands, 210 
Hudskins, a class of spirits, 7n 
Hume-byres penny, charm, 222 
Huntor and hounds, legend, 121-124, 

Hurlo-stane, near Chillingham, 143, 

Hutton Church, treasure hidden at, 1 35 
Hy Brasail, Irish belief concerning, 

Hydrophobia, remedies for, 220 

Ice before Christmas, 90 

" If I had gold in goupins," rhyme, 54 

Ignis fatuus, 77, 113 

"I'll away yhame," rhyme, ">.'{ 

Imps, a class of spirits, 77, 78 

Incubusses, a class of spirits, 77 

Ireland, buried treasure in, 254 

belief as to elf arrows, 224 

Ireland, fairies, cry of the, 84 ; dust 
caused by, 88 

Irish, objections of adder to, 275 
Irish Btone, a charm, 40 

Jack-in-the-Wads, a class of spirits, 78 
Jacobite toast, 359 
Jarrow rhyme, 360 

we'll at, 156 

Javelins, fairy, 30, 113 
Jedburgh Abbey, bells of, 133 
Jemmy-burties, a class of spirits, 77 
Jcsmond, sacred well at, 156 
Jinny-burnt-tails, a class of spirits, 79 
Journey, signs of unluck on starting, 

Judges, meeting of, at Brampton, 

Cumberland, 227 
Jury, butchers objected to serve on, 66 

Kail wedding, 356 

Katie Ncevie's hoard, 255 

Kelpies, a class of spirits, 77 

Kelso Bridge, legend connected with, 

Kemps, game of, 369 

divination by, 371 

Kendal, divination practices near, 283 

Kening, half a bushel, 303 

Kent customs, 20 

Keppen Well, at Eglanton, 3.">2 

Keppy ball, game of, 227, 286-288 

Kerns, fairy, 144 

rhymes, 349 

Keswick, legend of the Giant Cor, 29 

Kettles, fairy, 30, 113 

Keyheugh, Northumberland, sacred 

well at, 154 
Keys, enchanted, 209-211 
Kidnappers, a class of spirits, 78 
Kidneys, fniry, 113 
Kilcattan Bay, stone chair at, 131 
King's dyke at Newcustlc-on-Tync, 34 
King's evil cured by seventh son, 39, 

King's seat, stones so called, 130 
Kirk, fairy, 114 
Kirkby Stephen, new years' gifts at, 


Gny Fawkes at, 15 

Kissing bnsh at Christmas, 67 
Kit-a-can-sticks, a class of spirits, 77 
Kittie-cat and buck-stick, game of, 

Kitty-witches, a class of spirits, 77 



Knipe-scar, local rhyme, 14 
Knockers, a class of spirits, 78, 206-7 
Knots, divination by, 279 

elf, 30 

Knowes, fairy, 143, 148, 150, 151 
Kobolds, a class of spirits, 79 
Korigans, a class of spirits, 79 
Korrids, a class of spirits, 79 
Kors, a class of spirits, 79 
Kous, a class of spirits, 78 

Lambton, sacred well at, 153 

Lammer bead, an amber bead, 82 

Lammermoors, king's seat in, 130 

Lammikin, ballad of, 191 

Lancashire customs, 14, 19, 20 

Land measures, 34 

Land's End, Fugoe hole, 220 

Larrs, a class of spirits, 77 

Leap Year rhymes, 101 

Lease, life, to witch from the devil, 

Left leg stocking, divination by, 281 
Left shoe, divination by, 282 
Leicestershire, see "Lutterworth " 
Leprechauns, a class of spirits, 79 
Leys, stone circle of, 209 
Lian-hanshees, a class of spirits, 79 
Lifting, custom of, Westmoreland, 31 
Light from the house, not to be taken 

on New Tear's Day, 24, 340 
Lilburn, stone near, 201 
Lindisfarne, petting stone at, 67 
Lint, fairies, 149 
Loaves, fairy, 30, 113 
Lob's pound, allusion to, 87 
Local rhymes, 14 
"^Lockerley well, cure for hydrophobia, 

London, legend connected with, Bridge, 


customs, 40 

field of the Forty Footsteps, 


Long Benton, May kitten beliefs at, 55 
Long Lonkin, ballad of, 191 
Longwillon, sacred well at, 156 
Looking glass, covering of, where 

corpse lies, 73 
divination by, on St. 

Agnes' Eve, 283 

■ superstition, 48 

Lord's Prayer backwards in witchcraft, 

Lots, divination by, 292 

Low Sunday, 119 
Lubberkins, a class of spirits, 79 
Luck of Eden Hall, 112 
Luck, wishing of, 326 
Lutterworth, superstition at, 46 
Lyke wake, 58 

MacCulloch (Sir Godfrey), tradition. 

concerning, 61 
Macleans of Loch Buy, ancestral 

spirit, 187 
Madcaps, a class of spirits, 78 
Mad stones, 223, 224 
Madron, sacred well at, 153 
Magpie rhymes, 19, 20 
Mahounds, a class of spirits, 79 
Maiden assize and white gloves, 66 
Maiden in place-names, 152 
Mally, a Northumbrian song, 213 
Mamsforth, Durham, buried treasure 

in, 254 
Mannikins, a class of spirits, 79 
Manx fairy saying, 87 
Marble playing, witches invoked in, 89 
Mares, a class of spirits, 79 
Markets, 29 

Mark's (St.) eve, customs, 284 
Marriage, omen from church clock 

striking, 51 

celebrations, 94 

customs, 356 ; at Coniscliffe, 

41 ; Durham, 43 

dream of, a sign of death, 


petting stone, 67, 213 
rhymes, 93, 94, 102 
shoe-throwing at, 33 

Martinmas rhyme, 96 
Maug Molach, an ancestral spirit, 188 
Mawkins, a class of spirits, 79 
May, eggs not set in, 275 

dew, gathering of, 153 

kittens, 55 

roan tree gathered on the second 

of, S3 
Mayor, ceremonial, choosing of, 6 
Meg-with-the-wads, a class of spirits, 

Meg of Meldon, 244-256 
Melch-dicks, a class of spirits, 77 
Meldon, stone near, 200 
Mell day. 2, 3 

Men-in-the-oak, a class of spirits, 77 
Men not allowed at women's funerals. 

Mermaid's stone, 150 



Merrymen, 98 

Middleton, British townlet near, 207 

Midsummer bonfires, 342 

cushions, 1 

eve, customs, 284 

Midwife, fairy, 139 

Miffies, a class of spirits, 78 

Milk, susceptibility of, to witchcraft, 

Milking superstition, 83 
Mills, fairy, 113 
Mince pies, 91 

Minchmuir, cheese well at, 152 
Mistletoe used in the kissing bush at 

Christmas, 67 
Moaning, a warning of death, 267 
Mockheggar, place-name derived from, 

Mockbeggars, a class of spirits, 77 
Money digging, 62 

fairy, 30, 112 

finding of, 85 

Money Hill, near Gunnarton, 203 
Montferraud, near Beverley, 26 
Months and days, rhymes, 100-102 
Moon changing on Saturday, 10 

first, divination by, 281 

man in the, 55 

new, superstition, 24 

Morden carrs, local rhyme, 14 
Morinos, a class of spirits, 78 
Morpeth, divination practices in, 289, 


tradition concerning, 118 

Mortham Dobby, a Teesdale goblin, 

Morven church, bells of, 133 
Mosstrooper's grave, 67 
Mountain ash, a preservative against 

silky, 171 
Mouse, witch in shape of, 301 
Mulgrave Castle, bone of giant cow at 

Mummers' harvest, 3 
Mnmpokers, a class of spirits, 77 
Murcc- (St.), tradition of, 134 
Murder causes earth to be barren, 23 

corpse bleeding superstition, 


Museum at Newcastle, folklore objects 

in, 41 
Mushrooms, fairy, 30, 113 
Music, fairy, 148 
Myddvai, physicians of, 294 

Nacks, a class of spirits, 78 
Naffcrton, legends of, 190 

Nails, finger and toe, superstitions, 24 
finger, to bite the, a sign of con- 
tempt, 66 

not pared on Friday, 337 

Names, superstition concerning, 49 
Nanny Powler, spirit of the Skerne, 78 
Nathan's Keeve, Cornwall, buried 

treasure in, 255 
Neatherd, town's, at Wooler, 167 
Neat's fire, for cattle disease, 365, 366 
Ned Stokes, name for " four of spades," 

Need fire, 60, 342 
Nelly the knocker, spirit of a stone, 

Neolithic implements found at Sten- 

ton, 151 
Nettle rhymes, 71 
Newcastle, All Saints, burials at, 38 

barring out at, 344, 346 

charms at, 40 

divination practices in, 290 

kissing bush at, 67 

King's Dyke at, 34 

trials for witchcraft, 300-302, 

322, 332, 336 
Newminster, stone coffin at, 247 
New Year's Day customs, 24, 31 

gifts, 33 

observances, 340, 341 

rhymes and sayings, 9 

tide, 98-99 

Nickers, a class of spirits, 78 
Nickies, a class of spirits, 78 
Nicknevins, a class of spirits, 79 
Nightbats, a class of spirits, 77 
Nightmare, a class of spirits, 87 
Nightmare, holystone used to prevent, 

43, 325 
Nips, fairy, 114 
Nipsey springs, forecast of weather 

from, 48 
Nisses, a class of spirits. 80 
Nixies, a class of spirits, 79 
Norfolk, customs, 11 
Northamptonshire, divinations in, 371 
Northumberland, customs of, 3, 8, 20, 

trials for witchcraft, 314, 

327, 336 
Nursery rhymes, 53, 69 
Nursery song, 27-28 
Nutty-cock, an old term of endearment, 


Oak Day, 54 

Ointment, fairy, for the eyes, 138 



Old, prefix to place-names, 44 

Old maids, 45 

Old shocks, a class of spirits, 78 

Ouphs, a class of spirits. 78 

Ouse, river, tradition concerning, 51 

Oven, fairies', 149 

Oxenham family, ancestral spirit, 188 

Padfooits, a class of spirits, 78 

Palm Sunday customs, 57 

Pancakes, 17, 19, 31 

Pans, a class of spirits, 77 

Paralysis, fairy struck, 87, 115 

Pasche eggs, 95 

Passion week customs, 32 

Patches, a class of spirits, 78 

Patience Dock, a herb, 32 

Pearlin' Jean, an apparition, 178 

Pease, divination by, 282 

Pech pipes, 111 

Pedlar murder, tradition, 196 

Peg Powler, goddess of the Tees, 42, 78 

Pele towers, 238, 243 

Pelton Brag, a sprite, 161 

Penny, Hume-byres, charm, 223 

Peony, cure for falling sickness, 141 

Petticoats, superstition concerning, 48 

Petting stone at Lindisfame, 67 ; at 

Eglingham Church, 213 
Phooka, blackberries spoiled by, 88 
Phynodderee, a Manx fairy, 87 
Pickering, origin of the town, 44 
Picktree Brag, a spirit, 159 
Picktree Bragg, a ghost story, 78 
Picktree, place-names derived from, 78 
Pictrees, a class of spirits, 78 
Piddle Hinton, Dorsetshire, poors' gift 

at, 91 
Piercebridge, battling stones at, 69 
Pig, unlucky to kill, at moon waning, 

Piggiviggan, a severe fall, 87 
Pigmies, a class of spirits, 79 
Pins, divination by, 283 

offerings of, at sacred wells, 153, 

154, 156 

vomited by bewitched people, 

322, 323 

Piper, legends concerning, 220 

of Hexham, 363 

Pipes, fairy, 30, 111 
Piper's Coe o' Cowend, 220 
Pixies, a class of spirits, 78 
Pixyled, 87 

Place-names connected with fairies, 
142, 143 

Place-names from spirits, 77-80 
Plagne stones, 212 

Playing-cards, popular names for, 38 
Ploughing, fairy at the, 137 

fairies objecting to, 146 

incantatioD, 88 

Pools, fairy, 114 

" Poor Johnny's deed " rhyme, 52 
Portunes, a class of spirits, 79 
Prayer, secret, said over corpse, 73 

witches', 86 

Pregnancy beliefs, 30 
Priest's hole, 194 
Proudlock's poems, 59 
Proverbs, 57, 65, 75, 363-365 
Puck, Irish allusion to, 87 
Puck fists, 30, 113 
Puck needle, 114 
Puckles, a class of spirits, 79 
Pucks, a class of spirits, 78 
Puddening infants, 25 
Pudding Gyve, 220 

Queen Bess, name for " queen of clubs," 

Quern mill, 32 

Rabbit, white, apparition of, 193 

Radiant boy apparition, 163 

Rags offered at wells, 156 

Rain rhymes and sayings, 22, 47 

Rainbow custom, 58 

Rawheads, a class of spirits, 78 

Ray, a cloth woven parti-coloured, 98 

Red-men, a class of spirits, 79 

Red thread used as charm to keep away 

witches, 83, 329 
Redcaps, a class of spirits, 78 
Rhyme, burial, 37 

nursery, 36, 46 

Rhyming charms, 70, 71 

formula? used in customs. 2, 5, 

8, 9, 15, 20 

Rihwort plantain, 367-381 
Richmond, 61, 62 

bell-horses used at, 74 

Riddle, divination by, 280, 288-291 
Riggin, the backbone, 65 
Rimside black sow, a stone, 360 
Ring found in fish, story of, 44 

wedding, divination by, 281 

Ringing in Christmas, 92, 93 
Rings, fairy, 30, 112, 139 

River gods, 42; descent of family 
from, 42 



River spirits, 78 

superstitions, 29, 4G 

traditions, 51 

Hi vers, abode of fame-, 144 
Riving-pikc, local rhyme, 14 
Road, fairies', at Oldcambus, 149 
Koads attributed to Michael Seott, 

Robin believed to cover dead bodies, 28 
ltobin Goodfellows, a class of spirits, 

77, K,-, 
Robinets, a class of spirits, 7* 
Rocks, names of, 157 
Roman burials, 05 
remains attributed to fairies, 

144, 145 

■ wall built by Michnel Scott, 

117; well-offerings on the, 157 

Roscberry Topping, local rhyme, 14 

" Rosemary green and lavender blue " 
rhyme, 54 

Roshn, tradition concerning, 124 

Rothiemurcus family, ancestral spirit 
of, 1*8 

Rothley Mill, fairies of, 145 

Roundhead rhyme, 76 

Howan tree, a protection from witch- 
craft, 30, 81-83, 328-330, 335 

Rowhope wedding, 35(5 

Running and leaping ihymes, G9 

Rush-bearer's garland, 33 

Sackworth, local rhyme, 14 

Sacrifice, row, to cure witchcraft, 327 

Saddles, fairy, 30, 113 

St. Boswell, sacred well at, 157 

St. Nicholas' day cuslom, 6-8 

St. Stephen's day, 26 

Saints, as guardians of wells, 155 

Salt placed on dead bodies, 73 

as charm against witchcraft, 335 

as preventive of evil, 365 

Rand, ropes of, devil set t'i spin, 116 
Saturday, Christmas day falling on, 99 

moon changing on, 10 

Satyrs, a class of spirits, 77 
^car-bugs, a class of spirits, 7S 
Scarecrows, a class of spirits, 77 
Schoolboy rhymes, 17, 54 
H'hool customs, 7 

Scotland, banks of the Tyne called, 

■ marble playing, 89 

■ regalia of, 1 1 1 

<™tt (Michael), the wizard, 116-119 
Scrags, a class of spirits, 77 

Scrats, a class of spirits, 79 

Scruffell, lecal rhyme, 14 

Sea, superstition connected with, 72 

Selby (Margaret), legend of, 244-256 

Seventh son, 39, 273 

Sewingshields, King Arthur at, 125- 

Sex rhymes, 70 

taboos, 40 

Shadows, a class of spirits, 79 
Shag foals, a class of spirits, 78 
Sheaf of corn, appearance of, a warning 

of death, 267 
Sheep's bone used as amulet, 58 
Sheffield Christmas rhyme, 37 

pancake custom at, 31 

Shellycoats, a class of spirits, 77 
Shoe take,, as pledge or payment, 31 

throwing at marriages, 33 

Shoes, divination by the, 278, 279 
Shrove-tide rhyme, 17, 19 

Tuesday custom, 31, 32 

Silence, divination performed in, 2£ 5 

necessary for discovery of 

treasure, 248, 249 

Silk, a spirit raiment, 176-179 

nse of, for dresses, 180-182 

Silky, a sprite, 78, 169-174, 182 

place-names derived from, 78 

Silver stones, 212 

Sirens, a class of spirits, 77 
Sixpence, crooked, worn as amulet, 

Skeely man, 326 
Skerne, river, spirit of, 78 
Skiddaw, local rhyme, 14 
Skull superstition, 19 
Sleek or calendering stones. 74 
Sleep-walking, cure for, 274 
Slippers, fairy, 30 
Snake stones, 43 

Snapdragons, a class of spirits, 7s 
Somersetshire customs, 4 
Songs, 358, 359 

Northumbrian, 213 

Soul mass cake, 26 

South-running water, cure for witch- 
craft, 326 

Sowerby, witchcraft at, 327 
Spinning, powerover, by witchcraft, 308 
Spirit, evil, expelled by suction, 293 
Spirits, local names of, 77-80 

of the dead, 58, 59 

Spoorns, a class of spirits, 77 
Sprats, u class of spirits, 78 
Springs, forecast of weather from, 48 
Sprites, a class of spirits, 79 

'HI., II. 

•J. I> 



Spunks, a class of spirits, 78 

Spurns, a class of spirits, 78 

Stang, riding the, 4-6 

Stanging, lifting custom, 31 

Stealing, a warning of evil, 272 

Stentin, near Dunbar, tumulus at, 151 

Steven (St.), day, 95 

Stewart Hall (R >thesay), curing stones 
at, 225 

Stirlingshire, witchcraft in, 326 

Stocking put on wrong side out, prog- 
nosticates death, 271 

Stolen articles, used as charm, 48 

Stone chairs as seats, 130 

coffin, restored to its place by 

means of apparition, 164 

Stones, ascurefor hydrophobia, 221-223 
bloody, 60 . 

customs or superstitions con- 
cerning, 18 

fairies dancing round, 143 

fairy, 30, 143-145 

holed, charm to prevent witch- 
craft, 325 

holy, 43 

inauguration, 150 

■ legends concerning, 129, 197- 


thunder, 45 

Storms, fairies and spirits connected 
with, 176 

caused by witches, 337 

charms against, 295 

Strath church, bell legend, 134 
Straws, 337 

Stye, cured by gold ring, 298 
Subterraneous passages, belief in, 30, 60 
Succubusses, a class of spirits, 79 
Suicides, burial of, 63-64 
Sunday, lucky to start on voyage, 343 
Sunderland fitter, name for " kuave of 

clubs," 38, a class of spirits, 78 
Swallow, witch in shape of, 306, 311 
Swarths, a class of spirits, 78 
Swedish fairy legend, 135 
Swift, river, superstition as to over- 
flowing of, 46 
Swinging witches, 302, 303 
Sybils, a class of spirits, 7!) 
Sylphs, a class of spirits, 7S 
Sylvaus, a class of spirits, 79 

Tailors, 51 

Tamleuchar Cross, treasure hidden at, 

Tansy pudding, 4 1 

Tantarrabobs, a class of spirits, 78 
Taps, three, warning of death, 267- 

Tees, river, spirit of the, 42, 78 
Teeth superstitions, 24, 75 

burning of, 48 

and toes, prognostication from, 48 

Tempest family, legend connected with, 

Thames, abode of a spirit, 42 
Thirteen at table unlncky, 25 
Thomas' (St 1 dav, 92, 93 
Thomas the Rhymer. 119, 120 
Thrashing, warning of misfortune 

during, 267 
Threeston, Burn, 207-209 
Throngh-the-needle, &c, game of, 351 
Th rummy, place-name derived from , 79 
Thrummycaps, a class of spirits, 79 
Thrush (disease), cure of, 293 
Thumbs, doubling of, to prevent witch- 
craft, i25 
Thunderstone, 45 
Thnrses, a class of spirits, 78 
Tints, a class of spirits, 78 
Toad, daughter turned into, by witch, 

Toast, Northumbrian, 214 
Todlowries, a class of spirits, 78 
Toe-nail superstition, 24 
Tompokcrs, a class of spirits, 78 
Tom-thumbs, a class of spirits, 78 
Tom-tumblers, a class of spirits, 77 
Tooth, dream of, sign of death, 272 

extracted, put into fire, 298, 299 

Toothache, amber bead worn as cure 

for, 83 

charm, 9, 10 

Topsham, family legend, 85 
Towers, used for protection, 238 
Treasure attributed to silky sprite, 173 
hidden, 135, 200, 202, 203, 

247-250, 254 
Treasures, fairy, at Bamborough, 146 
Tree (dreaming), at Bute, 286 
Trees, stretching across streams, haunt 

of sprites, 174 

hawthorn, fairies dance near, 


Trenchers, wooden, in servants' hall, 33 
Tritons, a class of spirits, 77 
Trolls, a class of spirits, 78 
Trows, a class of spirits, 79 
Tumuli, attributed to the fairies, 151 
Turf placed on dead bodies, 73 

charm for cattle's diseased foot, 




Tutgote, a class of spirits, 78 
Tweed, river, spirit of the, 42 
Twinlaw, stone chair on, 130 
Twins, boy and girl, 30 
Tjnemouth, wizard's cave at, 123 

Urchins, a class of spirits, 77 
name for hedgehogs, 57 

Vnlcr.tine rhymes, 348, 349 
Veal pie, at funeral feast, 10 
Vervain, a protection from witchcraft, 

Virgin garlands, 33 

Wabby (Willy), ghost of, ICG 
Waffs, a class of spirits, 7H 
Weghom, a false man, 83 
Waitlw, a class of spirits, 78 
Wake at funerals, 58 
Wansbeck river, tradition concerning, 

Wurk Castle, 61 

sacred well at, 155, 341 

Warlocks, a class of spirits, 77 
Warnings to relatives of death or mis- 
fortune, 266-273 

Warts, cure for, by the seventh son, 274 
Wassail bowl at Christmas, 8, 92 
Water, south-running, as a curative, 

person carrying, sign of ill- 
luck, 338 

placed beneath the bed on 

which corpse lies, 73 
Water falls, abode of fairies, 175 
Water witch, 314 
Watling Street, called Michael Scott's 

Causeway, 117 
Wear, river, tradition concerning, IIS 
Weasel, white, apparition of, 193 
Weather forecasts, 357, 300, 361 

lore of New Year's day, 99 

proverbs, 21-23 

Weaving on a battling stone, 2 46 
Wednesday, the fairies' holiday, 86, 1 1.1 
Weise, used by milkmaids, 142 
Well buried treasure id, 248, 249 

— near Whittingham, white ladies 
appear at, 167 

rites at Alnwick, 40 

Wells, fairy, 30, 112 

sacred, 33, 151-1.17, 221, 341, 


Welsh fairies, 81, 17.1 

Westmoreland, customs of, 7, 8. 1 1, 14, 
20, 31, 33, 38, 46, 47, .11, 91 

Whalton. sacred fire at, 342 

Whicken tre, charm for witchcraft, 329 

Whirlpools, attributed to the fairies, 

Wh.le animal, apparition of 193 

ducks or drakes, used fur 

charming, 293 

ladies apparition. 166, 167 

White women, a class of spirits, 79 
Whittingham place-rhymes, 359 

sacied well at, 107 

vale. 234-214 

Wife, rhymes on, 37 

Will, rhyming, 16 

Wills, customs noted from, 39 

Willy Howe, near Bridlington, buried 

treasure in, 2.14 
Wimbell pond, Sussex, buried treasure 

in, 254 
Wind, devil's connection with the, 30 

rhymes and savings, 23, 29 

Windielaw Cove, 220 
Wirrikows, a class of spirits, 79 
Wisemen, practices of, 295-297 
Witch formulae, 12, 13 
Witchcraft, cases of, 100, 161, 324-339 
attributed to Margaret 

Sclby, 245 

beliefs, 30 

trials for. 299-324 

Witches, charms to keep away, 83 

invoked in marble playing, 


of Auldearn, 2N7 
■ rhymes relating to, 81-84, 

Witches' Cairn, 334 

Wooden dishes, witches riding on, 

299, 301 
Wuoler, gipsies at, 349 

guisarding tit , 21.1 

sacred well at, 151 

stone chair at, 130 

superstitions, 287,288, 293,298 

ivitehciaft at, 325, 337 

Woman cause of death to hero, IIS 
Women, not allowed at men's funerals, 

Word charms, 29.1 
Worm well at Lambton, 1.13 
Wraith, as wanting of death, 208. 270, 

Wraithes, a class of spirits, 78 
Written charms, lo, 1 1 
Wycliffe (John), superstition connected 

with bones of, 40 



Yeavering Bell, ancient remains near, 

Yethhounds, a class of spirits, 78 
Yetholm, the fairies at, 147 
Yevering, stone legend at, 216 
Yew trees, planting of, 46 
York, divination practices in, 289 
kissing bush at, 67 

Yorkshire customs, 2, 7, 11, 14, 25, 26, 
29, 33, 40, 44, 4S, 91 

trials for witchcraft, 315 

Yowe, a female sheep, 5 

Yule cake, 25 

candle, 25, 26 

cheese, 25 

day, 90 

log, 25, 26, 90, 91